YOU KNOW ME WELL by Nina LaCour and David Levithan is an incredible story about the difficulties of love, changing friendships, overcoming fears, and how to move forward when things don’t turn out the way you thought. The novel is told in alternating points of view and takes place only over one week. One that the things that is particularly impressive to me about this book is that some of the major events in each of the two main characters’ individual story lines are told through the other characters’ point of view.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is the way that it approaches changing and evolving friendship. Mark and Kate go to school together but aren’t friends until one fateful night when they both need each other. It’s best friends at first sight and it’s pretty well timed since both Mark and Kate are about to have friendships blow up in their own lives for very different reasons. Kate and her childhood best friend, Lehna, have been growing apart over the last few months even though Lehna is trying to set Kate up with her cousin, Violet. Kate really struggles with the idea of drifting apart from someone when so much of who you are today is because of that person? Is it possible for someone to influence you so deeply that you grow into a person that wouldn’t even be friends with if you met today?
Mark, however, is absolutely, without a doubt, head over heels in love with his best friend Ryan. And their sort of together…but only sort of. Their only together in the dark, behind closed doors, where no one can see them. Ryan isn’t out yet but Mark knows that if he was, they could be together. Until Ryan finds someone else, someone who makes him want to come out on his own so they can be together. Mark struggles with what it looks like to be someone’s best friend after they’ve rejected you. To continue to be there for someone when you want more. To continue to support and encourage when your own heart is breaking.
In all of this, Mark and Kate find each other and are able to be to one another what their best friends cannot. They are one another’s life line in this crazy week of broken hearts, new relationships, big decisions, and self-realization. And it’s big and beautiful and scary and terrible all at the same time.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Ryan’s character is a little too perfect, too understanding, always saying and doing all the right things. He has his own struggle with his decision to come out and his new relationship with Taylor but overall, he lacks a depth that made him believable to me.
I loved this book for a million reasons and would encourage anyone who loves contemporary to pick it up, especially anyone interested in LGBTQ books. It’s a book anyone in the middle of heartbreak, on the cusp of an exciting new relationships, dealing with their own changing friendships, or just struggling to figure out who they are should read. It’s encouraging, funny, heartbreaking but oh so real.