You Don't Know Me But I Know You
Inside is a letter, seventeen years old, from a mother she’s never met, handed to her by the woman she’s called Mom her whole life.
Being adopted, though, is just one piece in the puzzle of Audrey’s life—the picture painstakingly put together by Audrey herself, consisting not only of the greatest family ever but of a snarky, loyal, sometimes infuriating best friend, Rose; a sweet, smart musician boyfriend, Julian; and a beloved camera that turns the most fleeting moments of her day-to-day routine into precious, permanent memories.
But when Audrey realizes that she’s pregnant, she feels something—a tightly sealed box in the closet corners of her heart—crack open, spilling her dormant fears and unanswered questions all over the life she loves.
Almost two decades ago, a girl in Audrey’s situation made a choice, one that started Audrey’s entire story. Now Audrey is paralyzed by her own what-ifs and terrified by the distance she feels growing between her and Rose. Down every possible path is a different unfamiliar version of her life, and as she weighs the options in her mind, she starts to wonder—what does it even mean to be Audrey Spencer?
Rebecca Barrow’s bright, honest debut novel about chance, choice, and unconditional love is a heartfelt testament to creating the future you truly want, one puzzle piece at a time.
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!