This #ownvoices slice of life is gorgeously written and comes with a well-written, diverse cast of characters; Audrey is biracial, her best friend Rose is bi, and Audrey’s boyfriend is Jewish. If you want a cast full of POC and queer people, you’ll find exactly that here! Even side characters who gets considerably less page time experience solid character development.
The focus remains on Audrey, though. Her feelings once she realizes she’s pregnant, her lingering questions about her birth mother and why Audrey was put up for adoption at birth, her crumbling friendship with her best friend Rose, and the reproductive choice she has to make: whether to keep the pregnancy and the child, give the child up for adoption after birth, or have an abortion. Boyfriend Julian is generally a great, supportive figure to her and recognizes that though he’s the one who got her pregnant, what happens now is up to her because he isn’t the pregnant one.
There is very little concrete action or forward momentum in the novel. Instead, you’ll pulled along by the strength of the characters and how genuine Audrey’s experience is. It’s practically the definition of a slice of life story! Because the cast is interesting and nuanced enough, it all works and it’s hard to put the book down.
Sure, there’s a small touch of suspense as Audrey considers her options, but it’s not a suspenseful book. You Don’t Know Me But I Know You is a novel of reproductive choice and Audrey takes her time to consider her options. Having or not having a kid is a huge deal, especially when you’re in high school! Most importantly, it delivers the messages that every person is different, every pregnancy is different, and no one option is better than the others. That’s the kind of healthy thinking sexually active teenagers need to hear, not anti-abortion propaganda that falsely claims having an abortion will increase your risk of breast cancer.
With as powerful and gentle a debut as this, Rebecca Barrow is an author to watch. As soon as I can afford it, I’ll be adding a finished copy of You Don’t Know Me But I Know You to my bookshelves. It’s also got me fired up to fight even harder for reproductive rights!