Synopsis: 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.
There are a lot of things to like about You Know Me Well.
- It takes place over a single action-packed [Pride] week.
- Mark and Kate are compelling narrators, who suck you into their neurosis and POVs almost immediately, so it is very easy to slip into the story early on and become truly immersed in the reading experience, which I loved.
- There are plenty of antics that took even me, as the reader, out of my comfort zone (these poor protagonists really go through a lot of crazy over a one-week period). I thought this was a nice change of pace in a contemporary – it’s not often a book makes me uncomfortable in a good way, and You Know Me Well is really really good at it. I kept imagining myself in Kate or Mark’s shoes and I was just shuddering with anxiety over it. But that’s what high school (and college) ((and life)) is all about… Finding yourself, stepping out of your comfy cozy little “zone” and experiencing things you may only get a single chance to experience.
- This book is NOT FAIR. I like that. After all, LIFE IS NOT FAIR EITHER. Mark especially, goes through a lot of very hard things, such as watching the guy he’s head over heels in love with fall in love with someone else. It may seem hard to believe that a person (let alone a teenaged person) could get over something like that with any kind of aplomb, but I loved how Mark was kind of forced to suck it up or give up his best friend. Friends are worth a lot – throwing a friendship away because your friend doesn’t return your feelings is a stupid thing to do. I am one hundred percent sure that almost everyone has to face that conundrum and heartbreak at some point in his/her life, and I liked that this novel handled that issue head-on, no sugarcoating, and allowed Mark to do the right thing in a graceful (despite its difficulty) way.
- The supporting cast is fun and colorful and (Did I already mention this?) FUN. Seriously. I almost liked Violet and Garrison the Gay Fairy Godfather better than I liked Mark and Kate. They were such interesting characters. And the circus theme surrounding Violet, mixed in with her awesome down-to-earth vibe just made her fabulous in my eyes. I would read her spin-off story any day.
- The imagery was beautiful. Especially when they were describing Kate’s artwork, I felt like I was there and could see every single piece perfectly in my mind’s eye. I loved the circus work the best, because it reminded me of The Night Circus, which is one of the greatest stories ever told. So, yeah, that was awesome.
Aaaaaaand…There were also a few things that were less likable about You Know Me Well.
- The romances didn’t immediately “click” for me. I thought that the whole thing between Mark and Ryan seemed a little bit forced and immature, even for teenage guys. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed some aspects of their story because I do thing everyone has to confront the ugly truth that not everyone you love is going to love you back in that way, but I also felt like their story (especially in the beginning) felt unauthentic. And Violet and Kate kind have this insta-love thing going on that doesn’t seem realistic (but then again, I loved Violet immediately so I can’t really blame Kate for feeling that way too).
- There is so much going on in this one week, and it all happens so quickly, almost too quickly, which made it hard to process. I just wanted them to have more time to figure some things out. I mean, I wish life was always that easy, and that you could magically solve all of your problems in a week, but I just wasn’t feeling that way when I read this book.
Those are small issues, and all in all I really did enjoy this book. It wasn’t my favorite David Levithan novel (Every Day will always always always hold my heart), but it was a solid contemporary with a beautiful take on LGBT teen love. Definitely a sweet summer read.
Rating: 4/5 stars