Jul 7th

Review of You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

you know me well

Title: You Know Me Well
Author: Nina LaCour, David Levithan
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date Published: June 7, 2016
Where I got the book: Purchased from Barnes&Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

You Know Me Well is charming and sweet, much in the tradition of the work by David Levithan which I’ve previously read. The premise itself was already a winner for me: the story of a friendship unfolding between a young lesbian and gay boy. Romance saturates the LGBT+ YA market and while elements of it are central to the story, this is by and large what I stated before: a brief coming-of-age novel involving a budding friendship. The story unfolds over the events of Pride Week in San Francisco and alternates between the points of view of the two main characters, Kate and Mark.

I admittedly read very little contemporary YA, only making exception for LGBT+ lit. I bought the hardcover of You Know Me Well before I had read any of it–a rare occurrence for me–and I don’t regret the decision at all. Not having ready any prior work by Nina LaCour, I wasn’t sure how her characters would read. They were wonderful; I arguably looked forward to them the most. Kate was brilliantly developed, a character whose hesitation and indecision are so reminiscent of myself at that age. Her storyline follows her fears of going away to art school and apprehension surrounding the girl she has a crush on, Violet. Mark (written by Levithan) is a junior, an out athlete who attends the same school as Kate. His storyline follows his long-suffering crush on his best friend, Ryan, with whom he’s had a lengthy friends-with-benefits style relationship. In both Mark and Kate’s love stories, however, there is less emphasis on the love itself and more on the ways that we grow, develop, and change rapidly through these seminal years of youth.

The story begins on the first night of Pride: Mark and Ryan end up in a bar where they have a chance encounter with Kate, who has fled just before her first meeting with the girl of her dreams. The action unfolds from there. From dancing on top of bars to poetry readings to regular school days, You Know Me Well explores the many venues and situations prescient to gay youth. The Pride parade itself was the best part of the book. Having taken part in Pride before (albeit in Seattle), the lucid details immediately transported me back. The energy and joy come through so clearly in both Nina and David’s writing, the elation and camaraderie so vivid through these pages.

I found myself getting emotional at various parts of this book, especially during this one. In a post-Orlando America, You Know Me Well is a beautiful and important novel–most especially for the youth in our community. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all readers. With a diverse cast of characters both realistic and relatable, emphasis on the important of solidarity between the various letters in LGBT, and a charming love story on the side, You Know Me Well hits all the right notes. It was certainly one of my favorite books I’ve read thus far in 2016, and the best contemporary I’ve picked up in who-knows-how-long.

you know me well

Title: You Know Me Well
Author: Nina LaCour, David Levithan
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date Published: June 7, 2016
Where I got the book: Purchased from Barnes&Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

You Know Me Well is charming and sweet, much in the tradition of the work by David Levithan which I’ve previously read. The premise itself was already a winner for me: the story of a friendship unfolding between a young lesbian and gay boy. Romance saturates the LGBT+ YA market and while elements of it are central to the story, this is by and large what I stated before: a brief coming-of-age novel involving a budding friendship. The story unfolds over the events of Pride Week in San Francisco and alternates between the points of view of the two main characters, Kate and Mark.

I admittedly read very little contemporary YA, only making exception for LGBT+ lit. I bought the hardcover of You Know Me Well before I had read any of it–a rare occurrence for me–and I don’t regret the decision at all. Not having ready any prior work by Nina LaCour, I wasn’t sure how her characters would read. They were wonderful; I arguably looked forward to them the most. Kate was brilliantly developed, a character whose hesitation and indecision are so reminiscent of myself at that age. Her storyline follows her fears of going away to art school and apprehension surrounding the girl she has a crush on, Violet. Mark (written by Levithan) is a junior, an out athlete who attends the same school as Kate. His storyline follows his long-suffering crush on his best friend, Ryan, with whom he’s had a lengthy friends-with-benefits style relationship. In both Mark and Kate’s love stories, however, there is less emphasis on the love itself and more on the ways that we grow, develop, and change rapidly through these seminal years of youth.

The story begins on the first night of Pride: Mark and Ryan end up in a bar where they have a chance encounter with Kate, who has fled just before her first meeting with the girl of her dreams. The action unfolds from there. From dancing on top of bars to poetry readings to regular school days, You Know Me Well explores the many venues and situations prescient to gay youth. The Pride parade itself was the best part of the book. Having taken part in Pride before (albeit in Seattle), the lucid details immediately transported me back. The energy and joy come through so clearly in both Nina and David’s writing, the elation and camaraderie so vivid through these pages.

I found myself getting emotional at various parts of this book, especially during this one. In a post-Orlando America, You Know Me Well is a beautiful and important novel–most especially for the youth in our community. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all readers. With a diverse cast of characters both realistic and relatable, emphasis on the important of solidarity between the various letters in LGBT, and a charming love story on the side, You Know Me Well hits all the right notes. It was certainly one of my favorite books I’ve read thus far in 2016, and the best contemporary I’ve picked up in who-knows-how-long.

By Oliver Lumpkin

Oli oli oxen-free
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