I was sent You Know Me Well by My Kinda Book on behalf of Macmillan in exchange for an honest review :)
You Know Me Well is a touching, realistic story about friendship, first love and the glitter and unprecedented joy of the San Fransisco Pride. It is the story of Mark and Kate and their unexpected encounter in a crowded bar on San Fransisco's first night of Pride. And before you think this is just any old love story, Mark is hopelessly in love with his best friend Ryan and Kate is pining after Violet, a girl she has heard lots about but has never met. It is the summer before college, and there is an electric feeling in the air. It is the summer for Kate and Mark to truly find themselves, what makes them happy, and above all else, what it means to be a good friend when love has the habit of getting in the way.
Sound intriguing? Check out the blurb here...
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.
I was immediately drawn in from the beginning of the very first page with the writing style. It was so wonderfully authentic and confiding, and it made me automatically believe in Mark and his story. With dual-narrative books, both authors need to ensure they craft out authentic voices, and LaCour and Levithan did this seamlessly. I could feel the aching of Mark's unrequited love, Kate's confusion about her loyalties between her best friend and a girl she's never met, and both of their identity crises that heighten and grow more complex throughout the novel. The narrative not only made the book an effortless and enjoyable read, but drove the story forward and made me want to crazily read on and find out what happens next. As is characteristic of Levithan, the story was fantastically paced and carefully crafted in terms of plot.
I adored the premise of the story. I have never read a book set in amidst the glittery chaos of Pride, and it was a fantastic setting in which to place a handful of characters who are unsure of their place in it yet. I myself have never been to a Pride event before, but this book definitely made me want to. LaCour and Levithan so flawlessly created an atmosphere that was joyful, inclusive and vibrant through their writing, and it was great to read about. I have read a few LGBT books but never one set in Pride, and I felt this made the story so much more striking, and showcased blatantly and without reserve the community's inclusivity and acceptance of people from all cultures, religions and backgrounds.
I thought the characters were very complex and well-developed, especially Ryan, who I spent almost the entirety of the book trying to figure out. At times I felt frustrated at him and the way he kept Mark guessing at his true feelings, however I think what Levithan was trying to say was that feelings aren't black and white, and they can't be described as such for the sake of a neatly wrapped-up story. I did feel like the friendship aspect of You Know Me Well was sometimes a bit simplistic and a bit insta-friendship, but it definitely didn't ruin the story for me. Throughout the book, I found myself caring deeply for the characters and hoping that everything would work out. I think that is the mark of a great story and a great writer, and LaCour and Levithan seamlessly came together to deliver just that - a truly great story.
If you haven't read You Know Me Well yet, or any of Levithan's or LaCour's books, I would highly encourage you to do so!
Buy You Know Me Well here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Know-Well-David-Levithan/dp/1250103320
Check out David Levithan here: http://davidlevithan.com
Check out Nina LaCour here: http://ninalacour.com/blog
Until next time :)