Levithan, David and Nina LaCour. “You Know Me Well: A Novel”, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016.
Are we even aware of who knows us and how well? I think that this is question that we all have spoken about at different times in our lives. Here we hear from Mark and Kate who were classmates who sat next to each other for a year but never exchanged a word. This changed one night when Kate was lost after having run from the chance to meet the girl that she has loved from a distance. Mark, at the same time, is in love with Ryan, his best friend and who possibly might feel the same about him. Neither Mark or Kate realizes how important one will be for the other and over a short period of time, they come to know each other very well, much better in fact than the people that they know very well.
Many times first love comes with pain attached as we never really know how to deal with it early on. This is a heartfelt look at relationships told in alternating chapters that reflect Mark and Nina’s points of view and pull us into the emotions that the two young people are dealing with as they deal with relationships. I have long been a fan of Levithan and while this is the first writing by LaCour that I have read, I am very impressed with what she has to say. is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time. We can sense that the authors have had similar experiences by the honesty with which this is written. We are with Mark and Kate during Pride Week in San Francisco and we share their joys, their pain and the revelations they face. First love often means change in lives led and we see just how much the cost of change is.
The novel takes place in just one week and the amount of change that the teens deal with is quite amazing. Their maturity and their immaturity are reflection in the way that they deal with love. The letters back and forth between the two cover two-and-a-half years thus allowing a deeper look at their emotions and thoughts. We often use the word “celebration” to define a piece of literature and that is exactly the word I would use here. We not only celebrate first love but we also celebrate friendship and we do so through wonderful prose and a story that awakens us.