Title: You Know Me Well
Authors: Nina Lacour and David Levithan
Genre: LGBTQ+ / contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
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.
You Know Me Well was both everything I wanted it to be and nothing like I expected it to be. The two main characters, Mark and Katie, had excellent chemistry, and everything about them being together was so perfectly natural. The story takes place in little more than a week (Pride Week!!), and yet both of them, along with their friends, had these spectacular character ARCs. They had to realize what they really wanted, and they had to grow out of their comfort zones, take risks, and learn to accept that not everything will always be laid out so perfectly. You have to give yourself a little push, sometimes, to finally go the distance.
One thing I especially liked is that this wasn’t a story about the main characters accepting that they were gay; no, they knew it 100% and were proud of it. The story wasn’t focused on them coming out; it was simply focused on their lives. Them being gay is obviously a large part of the story, but at the core, it’s not about struggling with sexuality or coming out of the closet. It’s about two people finding each other and finding themselves, learning and growing and becoming new people. At the end of the story, I felt… proud of the characters. As if, over the 256 pages of the book, they had become mine.
Some fantastic aspects of this book:
You Know Me Well left me with such a feeling of joy, of happiness. I want to lay in the sunshine and just be with someone I love, doing something I enjoy. It left me feeling like summer, like freedom… the book certainly had its issues, but somehow those don’t matter as much as the feeling it left behind.
I never would have said this to myself, say, a year and a half ago, but… this is a me book. I just have this feeling like the book is unequivocally mine. I’m not gay, I’m not gender queer… but that doesn’t mean I can’t love this book. Often times, my favorite books are the books that seem so far from my life, so different from me, that I somehow find some of myself in.
You Know Me Well is a story you want to read while sitting on the beach, a story you want to read snuggled on the couch in the sun. It gave me the feeling that there is still so much to happen, so much that is yet to be–there is so much potential to realize, to take a hold of and make mine.
A few troubling things:
I won’t go into too much detail, but there were a few characters and events that just didn’t seem realistic or believable to me. The one thing that bothered me the most in this novel was how the two main characters initially came together. (Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler – it happens within the first couple chapters.) Katie just went up to Mark and was like “Hey. Let’s help each other out. Be my friend?” and Mark was just like “Sure, I barely know you but let’s go have adventures together!” I found it a little strange how easily they fell into place, and seemed to always know what the other was thinking when they’d only just become friends.
My other large-ish skepticism about events that occurred in the story involves Katie and Violet. I mean, they just sort of… were already pretty much in love when they met? We’re told that they’ve been stalking each other for months via social media, but when they meet, they’ve never actually spoken. Yet somehow they just click perfectly. (I mean, obviously there are hiccups, but it’s also really obvious how much they like each other.) Somehow I didn’t find it quite believable. .
I guess what I’m trying to explain is this book’s major downfall: all of the the relationships between characters felt… forced. I liked Katie and Mark’s dynamic, I just think that more initial development of their friendship would have been a huge benefit to the story. I think what made me love this book enough to give it a full four stars is that I felt connected to Mark and Katie. But other than them, the only people I really liked where Lehna and Garrison (some really interesting side characters). I think what gives this book such a high rating for me was probably just that I had such a fun time reading it, and I really, really loved what the book had to say about being proud of who you are, and living life how you want to live it.
Whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, transgender, queer… I think you should read this book. Sure, it’s far from perfect, but there’s so much pride in just you being you bursting from every inch this book. Trust me, you want to read it. It’s the the story of two characters who you cant help but love, sure. But it’s not just their story; it’s your story, my story, anyone’s story who wants to make it their own. It made me laugh, smile, yell… and now I’m on the verge of crying happy tears. I absolutely loved You Know Me Well, and if you’re the least bit intrigued, you should 100% give it a chance.
Overall, a happy 4/5 stars. I know I’m going to want to reread this one in the future. ❤