Friday, July 22, 2016

Double Review: You Know Me Well - Nina LaCour & David Levithan

You Know Me Well
Nina LaCour & David Levithan 
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT+
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

Like every other reader of YA, David Levithan has been an author I've long admired and whose work never fails to leave me reeling. I'd never read anything by Nina LaCour, however, but after this book I'll definitely be keeping tabs on her future work.

The book takes place during San Francisco Pride Week, and alternates point of view between Kate -- a senior in high school madly in love with a girl, Violet, she knows only in glimpses (pictures, descriptions, letters) -- and Mark -- a junior on the baseball team madly in love with his best friend (sometimes with benefits), Ryan, who seems to have no idea. Mark and Kate both sit next to each other in Calc but have never noticed each other until the night the book kicks off.

You Know Me Well is a really short (248 pages), light book. It doesn't have any shocking plot twists or unexpected murders or anything like that. It is what it is: a book about friendship, romance, and personal reflection. So, if you aren't into cute contemporaries, this is probably not the book for you. I, personally, thought it was a fun read with a good story.

The book jumps into the action and therefore doesn't take too long to set up who the characters are before things start to happen but they never felt undeveloped. I love the way their personalities unfold as the book goes on, but even in the beginning they are cohesively introduced. Often when I read a book I picture the characters interacting in my mind, but this time, there was something about the writing style of both point of views that made me picture myself (in the first person) experiencing all their experiences and I really liked that about the book. I was Kate, afraid of committing to something real, exploring the possibilities. I was Mark, feeling so deeply, so purely. I didn't share their specific experiences in reality but the way they were written I could find bit and pieces to relate to.

I loved exploring the friendship between Kate and Mark, as well the friendship between their respective best friends. I know some people were complaining about them being insta-friends and it not being believable but honestly I have made so many of my friends by just hitting it off in one go and just becoming close right off the bat. I don't think insta-friends is a real thing.

They had such a sweet progression of their friendship and really seemed to care about each other. Also, I found it really amusing whenever Mark would third wheel even when he didn't want to because it subverts the whole thing where characters get together and then they abandon their friends or only mention them in passing. Their friendships and their relationships were all important. Speaking of friendships, there were some hard truths with both Kate and Mark's best friends and it was sad but honest.

You Know Me Well is a pretty fast-paced book. The whole thing happens over a week and there are a decent amount of things that take place over very few pages, but I like when books move quickly. However, this can make it seem kinda...surface-level? (Not sure what word to use there to convey my meaning.) Some of it was definitely a little "this is definitely a contemporary novel and not real life" but it wasn't overly so and it didn't really bother me. I thought the ending was a little cutesy and would have liked to see a little unhappy mixed with the happy ending (not that I like seeing characters sad, just that it would be cool to have reached understandings about relationships with some people) but it was still sweet and I still enjoyed it.

Overall, I think both authors did an awesome job. Like I mentioned before, this was my first Nina LaCour book and I am interested enough to keep an eye out for anything new. While this didn't become my new favorite David Levithan book or anything, I thought it was a fun read and would definitely recommend it.

- Noor

Amrutha's review of You Know Me Well
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Hello friends! Like Noor, I have been a fan of David Levithan since the powers that be dropped him in my lap many years ago. I have also never read anything by Nina LaCour but I'd be open to reading more from her.

This book was a /super/ fast read, it took me all of a couple hours to finish it -- this is mostly where the book gets points off, I think a lot of stuff happened for just one week of action, personally there should've been a lot more hashing out of the plot for the amount that went down in this book. I love fast paced reads but too much happened for the physical amount of book there was.

So as Noor said, the book goes down during pride week where two people (Kate and Mark) fall into an instant friendship. I honestly really think instant friendships are a thing, I experience them all the time -- also, in regards to insta-love, I never have a problem with people feeling an immediate romantic connection, just when they commit their hearts and souls to each other after a weekend on a beach or something.

I really loved this book too because as Noor mentioned, both the main characters are LGBTQ+, and in even the most ~diverse~ books, there is at most, one LGBT relationship mentioned. I also really liked that they weren't questioning their sexualities, just struggling with love in general -- most of the books I've read before with LGBT characters face some sort of identity crisis. The plot of the book was nice and simple, and discussed the woes of loving friends and strangers alike, genuine friendship, and figuring yourself out. I liked how everything played out a lot, and while the character development felt a /tad/ choppy for my taste, I really resonated with the characters.

Kate and Mark were written so well, with two completely distinct voices. I loved so much how their parts flowed in with one another. Even the supporting characters, Lehna, Ryan, Quinn, and Violet all had such complex backstories and emotions that it felt like I was reading about real life, rather than two real main charcacters and a bunch of static side characters. The thing I liked the most though, was the way the book ended. I'm all for happy endings but I like when happy endings are happy in a way that I wouldn't have thought possible. I have a lot of love for this book, I just wish it was a little less choppy.

Always in love with David Levithan and looking forward to more of Nina LaCour's books!
- Amrutha

Who knows you well?
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