You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour
Published by Text Publishing
Review copy provided by Netgalley
From the publisher:
You Know Me Well is a tender and joyful young-adult novel tracing the powerful friendship of two lovesick teenagers—a gay boy, Mark, and a lesbian girl, Katie—over the course of Pride Week in San Francisco. Told in alternating chapters, You Know Me Well explores how Mark and Katie help one another overcome heartbreak, fractured friendships and the dizzying speeds of change.
I’ll start with what I liked least about the book to get it out of the way. Mark and Kate meet at a gay bar, while Kate is hiding from this girl she really likes and Mark is dancing on the bar to impress this guy that he really likes, their eyes lock, they start talking, and instantly they were best friends. That part was not believable to me in the least – maybe it’s because I’m an old lady who needs to get to know a person before becoming BFF with them. But either way, their instafriendship reminded me of the instalove that is so annoying in books.
Other than that, I was really charmed by this adorable story of teenagers dealing with love, heartbreak and growing up. So often books that feature LGBTQ kids or adults are focused on the conflict that being gay causes in the persons’ life, or the internal struggle to come to terms with the characters’ sexuality, or a combination of the two, but this book wasn’t really like that. There is one character who is unwilling or unable to be honest with himself, his peers, and his family about the fact hat he is gay, and while that character is central to the story, for the most part Mark and Kate’s close friends are all gay and all completely happy, comfortable, well-adjusted and supported by their families. This was so refreshing to see and gave the book such a positive, happy vibe that I really enjoyed.
While I liked both Mark and Kate, I think I felt more compassion for and connection to Mark. His struggle of being in love with his best friend and not having that love returned to him was just heartbreaking. In the end, he handled the situation in such a mature and thoughtful way and I finished the book almost feeling proud of him. Yes, you can be proud of a fictional character. It’s a thing. I liked Kate too, but I thought her actions were a bit more selfish and a little flighty, to be honest. Part of that stemmed from her being scared of going after what she really wanted in life, but I wanted her to grow up and figure things out already. In the end, she sort of does, so I was happy with her character development throughout the novel.
Overall I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I think teens in particular would really like getting to know these characters, and gay teens might find a lot to appreciate about the way these authors wrote gay characters who are happy, healthy, and proud to be exactly who they are.