(No actual dueling—or even arm-twisting—was involved. Don’t worry, this is a dual review, not a duel review. Sorry if you’re disappointed.)
Today I have another dual review of a book from my Make Me Read It Giveaway (as part of the Wrap-Up Round-Up). Danielle Hammelef, a faithful FYFA reader, was again my latest winner, and she chose to make me read You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan. Once I read the book, I sent it along to her.
Once again, Danielle took me up on the option of doing a dual review. This time, she gave me her thoughts first (which I was grateful for, since I had waited way too long to review—I really need to get better about that), and I responded.
Read on to see what we thought of the book…
You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour, David Levithan
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 7th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing shown, Sex discussed, Some teen drinking)
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.
What Fed Our Addiction:
- The dual point of view, which flowed so well between chapters that I actually forgot two authors collaborated on this novel.
I agree. I was wondering if I would prefer one voice over the other, but I really liked both Mark and Kate, and I was invested in both of their stories. I felt like the story blended well between the two POVs as well.
- The characters popped off the pages and I felt as if I was living this week right alongside them.
It’s hard to believe that the story took place over just one week because so much character development went on during that week. Mark and Kate went through some major transformations and emerged at the end of the book as new people in a lot of ways.
- Emotions—I felt the raw emotions of heartbreak, uncertainty, insecurity, the sensations of first kisses.
I actually cried during this book, which I was not expecting at all. There were moments that totally broke my heart, and I agree that there were romantic moments that had me swooning. I was just rooting for both Mark and Kate in their respective lives in so many ways. They felt like real people, so I was experiencing their emotions right along with them!
- Setting—It’s so well drawn that I could picture everything.
Okay, confession: this is one element of the book that I don’t remember all that well. I mean, if you count Pride Week as part of the setting (which I suppose it is), then that element stood out. And once I looked it up, I remembered that the book took place in San Francisco—I definitely remember the club at the beginning of the book where Kate and Mark first meet. And of course, there’s the high school, but it didn’t stand out to me much more than any other high school setting. Probably someone more familiar with San Francisco would connect to the setting more than I did.
- The friendship between Mark and Kate is what I will remember most about this book. They were so loyal to each other and never hesitated to help each other find the courage to take chances or learn to let go.
I agree with you 100%. The friendship between these two is really what the book is all about. I connected to the friendship even more than the romance elements of the book. Mark and Kate forge an instant bond—they just click with each other. This could have seemed improbable, but I think it worked well in this book.
- The struggle people face of letting the world see who you really are.
Yes, we saw this theme throughout the book. It plays out in Mark’s story because he’s in love with a guy who doesn’t want to come out. And Kate struggles to let the world truly know her through her art. She also fears failure so much that it makes her almost not want to try—both with her art and in love.
What Left Us Hungry for More:
- Teens easily entering a bar and accessing alcohol.
Yeah, I sort of scratched my head at that as well. I’ll confess that I don’t know much about the bar scene in San Francisco, but you kind of have to raise your eyebrows at that.
- College-aged people dating high schoolers.
While this certainly happens, it is a little nerve-wracking when I see it in a book like this—especially when Ryan’s only experiences with a “relationship” were with his best friend. As a mom, it’s hard not to get nervous about scenes where a high schooler gets picked up by an older guy, and you sort of have to wonder what these two actually have in common.
- Kate’s love for Violet—I never connected with their feelings and it felt weird and more like infatuation or a crush than true love. This is one of the biggest reasons I couldn’t rate this 5 stars.
I have to agree with you here. Kate and Violet seemed to have this romance that bloomed out of hearing about each other. They had never actually met, so it was hard to feel a true bond between them. I thought that their relationship was cute, but I never felt like it was “love.” Still, I understood how Kate had built Violet up in her mind based on her friend’s descriptions of her.
- Violet’s forgiveness seemed uncharacteristic.
Again, this sort of goes along with the fact that the relationship between Kate and Violet felt a little unreal. You kind of had to wonder why Violet put up with so much from Kate, a girl she didn’t actually know.
- Ryan’s love interest didn’t make sense to me, especially with that poem Taylor wrote.
I’ll admit I actually didn’t care all that much about the relationship between Ryan and Taylor. I was much more concerned with the friendship/relationship between Mark and Ryan. It felt terribly unhealthy to me, and I could not see things from Ryan’s perspective. I think we were supposed to feel, in the end, like Ryan hadn’t done anything wrong, but I didn’t really see it that way. I had a hard time imagining how Mark and Ryan could have continued any sort of real bond after everything that went down between them.
So, in the end, both of us enjoyed this book. Danielle says she would recommend this book if you’re looking for an emotional, self-reflective friendship story with well-developed characters. (And I agree! The friendship between Kate and Mark is definitely the best part of the book.)
NICOLE’S RATING: 3.5 or 4 (3.75?)/5 Stars
DANIELLE’S RATING: 4 Stars
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via BEA 2016 in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Thanks so much for joining me in reading and reviewing this one, Danielle! Dual reviews are so much fun!
Now, make sure you go friend or follow Danielle on Goodreads so you can see what she thinks of lots of other books too. And watch for future dual reviews with Danielle!