Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 7, 2016
Source: the publisher
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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 received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Katie has been dreaming of the moment she will meet Violet in person. The two were introduced by one of Katie’s friends from school and have been in communication for ages. They’re supposed to meet at a party, finally, finally. But at the last minute, Katie runs. She runs away because she freezes and freaks out. She ends up at the same bar where Mark is dancing in his underwear. Realizing she knows Mark, the two strike up a conversation and bond over the things that they have in common.
This is where their friendship begins.
It felt like there were three stories working together to make You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan work: the story of Mark and Ryan, the story of Katie and Violet, and the story of Mark and Katie. The Mark/Katie friendship story arc was my favorite because I have always, always loved guy/girl friendships in books. It really did feel like Mark and Katie have a lot in common and seemed to know each other very well, when in reality they had only known each other for a very short time (aside from sitting beside one another in one of their classes). Their friendship felt authentic and deep and was very easy to read, and I really liked that.
Having said that, I feel like I want to say that the story took place over about one week, and the friendship between these two developed very quickly over that time. I know that it isn’t often that whirlwind friendships happen like this, but because of the writing of David Levithan and Nina LaCour, this close friendship felt plausible and believable enough to go with it for the sake of this story. Mark and Katie were open to new friend-relationships with new people because of the things that they had going on in their respective lives, and that is another reason why they felt so authentic to me.
As far as the romances go, the story arc and relationship between Mark and Ryan was my favorite between the two. I very much liked Mark as a character and found him easy to connect with. Granted, I am not a teenage boy going through life in the same way that he is, but Mark is written in such a way that just gripped me and his story really pulled me in. I felt deeply for him and wanted him to feel okay and be okay and to have the things that he needed and wanted out of life.
Katie was a little more difficult for me to bond with as a character. I really do feel like this was because of her written personality; I think she was a little bit more complicated. Katie seemed less likely to verbalize her feelings than Mark; she literally ran away from what she was feeling, particularly when things began to intensify in any way. (She actually ran away in some of the scenes. Like, with her feet, she ran away from the places where she was supposed to meet up with Violet.) This whole keeping-people-at-arms-length-thing caused problems among Katie and her friends, and it was the very reason I could not feel close to her throughout the story. This is an issue that I often have with characters that act in this way, and I think that Katie’s behavior is part of her story; she develops well. I liked reading about her and I completely love the way that she was there for Mark. She gave solid advice and was a good friend.
I liked this story. I liked what David Levithan and Nina LaCour did here. The story was compelling, the pages turned fast, and my interest never wavered. The friendship was my favorite part, but much of what I am personally taking away from this book was found in the Mark/Ryan story arc and deals with Ryan’s issue of publicly addressing his sexuality and his comfort level with doing so. I appreciated reading the thoughts that Ryan had (his apprehension, his fear). His interaction and conversation with Mark about this issue was good perspective.