Sunday, April 8, 2012

You Against Me (Jenny Downham, 2011)

The Heroine: Ellie Parker, a shy, pretty honors student who is suddenly trust into the spotlight when a girl at school, Karyn MacKenzie, accuses Tom, Ellie's older brother, of rape, setting off a series of events that reaks havoc through the Parker and MacKenzie families. The single light is Ellie's life is the mysterious boy she meets at a party. Unfortunately, her good looking and kind hero turns out to be Mikey MacKenzie, Karyn's older brother, searching for answers to what really happened to his sister. As Ellie is forced to stradle the line between the Parkers and the MacKenzies, between right and wrong and between truth and fiction, she is forced to question her own values and what she really believes in above all.

The Highs: I absolutely adored You Against Me. The novel is narrated by both Ellie and Mikey, providing the reader with perspectives from both sides of the conflict of alleged rape. I loved this style, with the alternating perspectives, because it gave each moment a deeper meaning to know what both characters were thinking. It was especially sweet during the romantic scenes, when the author provided the reader with a peek into how both characters felt about the other. It made for some excellent sexual tension and some really exciting plot twists and suspense!

Ellie and Mikey's love story was very romantic and sweet. It reminded me a little of Romeo and Juliet, with Ellie and Mikey divided by their dueling families, but desperate to be together. The author handles romance expertly, easily preventing the love scenes from slipping into cheesy or melodramatic territory. Realistic but tender, the story made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

You Against Me made me think long and hard about my life and my values. In the novel, Ellie is forced to choose between what is easy and what is right. Could I have the strength to turn my back on my family in I thought it was the right thing to do? Or does family loyalty trump everything (after all, if your family isn't there for you, who will be?)? This novel is much more then a teenage fluff piece; there is the same emotional depth that was present in Jenny Downham's first novel, Before I Die.

The Lows: I felt frustrated when I reached the end of the book because the ultimate outcome of the court case (Tom Parker versus Karyn MacKenzie) is never revealed. After most of the story revolving around the effects that the upcoming trial was having on both families, it was a let down to never learn what the verdict was.

Final Thoughts: You Against Me is a thought-provoking, well-written novel about family, love and truth that is gripping and powerful enough to appeal to all age groups.

Rating: You Against Me earns nine tea biscuits out of ten. 

Buy 'You Against Me' on The Book Depository here
Photo from here


  1. I LOVED Before I Die, and I do have this one on my shelf to read - I just haven't gotten around to it yet.
    I'm really glad to hear that you enjoyed it - I will have to bump it up the list.

    Excellent review, hun :)

    Pen to Paper

  2. Thanks for stopping by!! Before I Die and You Against Me are both really different, but I think I actually enjoyed this one more!

  3. What verdict did you think would have been the truthful one? Did the author give us any hints if the rape actually happened? I'm curious on if YOU think he did it or not? (I haven't read the book, but sounds like an interesting read. I'm more curious if YOU think he did it or not!)

  4. Just thinking back on my comment. Sorry to sound so "teacher-ish"! :)

  5. Haha, don't worry about it Carrie!! Yeah, we do find out eventually in the book as to whether or not the rape actually happened. But rape cases can be so difficult to try in court because of the whole he-said/she-said aspect. Not trying to give away any hints, but I hope justice (whichever way it was needed) was served!

  6. Ha, ha! Sounds good. After your review, I was left "urgh, you don't find out?!?!?" I may have to add this one to my "to-read" list. I'm intrigued and I usually don't read too much YA.

  7. Ah, if you enjoyed it more than Before I Die, then I definitely need to get reading.
    If I wasn't already reading three books at once at the moment, I'd pick it up now!


  8. Thanks for commenting, guys. I love hearing from readers! I only wish that all my reviews inspired this much conversation. So know how much I appreciate hearing from you!


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