Publication: June 7, 2016, by St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ
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 a book that really actually does know me well: I love books like this, that have a bit of unique substance in it that we can never really find in real YA. Honestly? I enjoyed it so much because an amazing author contributed to the story, and added in his own perspective (most definitely Mark's perspective, which I enjoyed reading more than Kate's), David Levithan. This is a book that I unfortunately was not able to pick up at BEA this year, but was sent it straight to my house a few weeks later from the publisher. This is a two-perspective novel written with the concept of pride and LGBTQ happiness. Our two protagonists, Kate and Mark, both explore their opportunities in the lovely setting of San Francisco (I WANT TO GO THERE NOW) and the Bay Area. And the best thing? They are not in love with each other. Kate is lesbian while Mark is gay, and they both become unexpected friends when in a club one night.
This was written spectacularly. As always, two amazing YA authors collaborating turns out fantastic. This was poetic, lyrical, and had that interesting use of language that captivated me from the first page. I had a few issues with the plot, momentarily becoming boring at times, but the writing is important for me when I'm reading these kinds of inspirational stories. This seriously is an inspirational story. Although you may not be LGBTQ, it is a story that will make you have pride and look at things from a different perspective. We see two characters striving to get a good ending in the end, wanting to be getting the person that they initially wanted and wished for, and it just turned out pretty great.
We are first introduced to Mark, who is in love with his best friend, Ryan. They both aren't an official couple, but they have had their bright moments when things got better than Mark would ever expect. One night, during Pride Month, they head out to a club, and things get out of control when Mark parties so hard that he stands on top of the bar and goes crazy. He then meets his Calculus seating partner, Kate, and they instantly become friends, both battling their relationship issues together.
"I am looking into Ryan's eyes and I know I am going to take that public kiss, that kiss that would have changed everything, and I am going to fold it up until it id too small to ever be found again" (143).
I really enjoyed reading both sides of the story. I preferred Mark's, as mentioned before, because I normally always prefer to read a guy's side of the story, because men think things and do things differently than us gals do/think. Mark was hilarious, contained every characteristic that David Levithan's characters usually have. I just wanted THE SHIPS TO HAPPEN, TO SAIL. Ryark needed to occur. And then Kate was pretty great too, though I couldn't relate to her artistic personality. Kate is set to go to UCLA for art (very ambitious, am I wrong?) and she's obsessed with her best friend's cousin (I'm pretty sure it was that, it was so complicated to be honest), Violet, who is also lesbian. FOR ONCE WE HAVE A STORY WHERE THE GIRL/BOY DOESN'T TRY TO MAKE THEIR TRUE LOVE GAY. That happens quite often in many books I have read, and it honestly either turns out one way or the other, but Levithan and LaCour just made this so natural.
The whole book was natural. There was nothing absurd or weirdly explained about it. It's teenagers being teenagers, friendship blooming. There is so much buzz revolving around this newly-released story, perfect for Pride Month (which just happened!) and it's definitely worth it. I would say that this is one of the better LGBTQ books out there, because we readers immediately understand, and it doesn't fully have to do with everything gay and rainbow. But it stands with a perfect message that I need everyone to pick up and figure out for themselves. I loved the friendship between Kate and Mark—even though they were boy and girl, not in love with each other, their connection was inevitable, was precious. It's rare for us to explore adventurous friendships these days in novels, but I feel like we just did.
Something that could be debatable is the setting of the book: the timing specifically. This is very fast-paced, and although it's not so relatable in terms of actual reality, I enjoyed the novel anyway. THIS WAS THE PERFECT SUMMER READ. I just want to travel to San Fran and explore and hang out with the cutest friend group ever.
"We grow up and we lose ourselves. Sometimes when my favorite songs are on I have to stop what I'm doing and lie down on my carpet and just listen. I feel every word they're singing. Every note. And to think that in twenty years, or ten years, or five even, I might hear those same songs and just, like, bob my head or something is horrible" (130).
You Know Me Well is a coming-of-age novel that is simply about growing up and friendship, and most importantly: about taking risks. Lately, I've been feeling adventurous, wanting to experience things that my normal self wouldn't want to, and this story by two fabulous authors was really out of the blue for me. With a great setting, interesting (though sometimes un-relatable) characters and beautiful writing, this is the book for this summer and beyond.
*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*