After much deliberation and time spent staring at stacks upon stacks of books, I decided that You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour would be my first read out of all the books I got this past week from BEA (book haul video coming soon).
You Know Me Well was a really refreshing gay YA book. Taking place in San Fransisco, teens Mark and Kate came out long before this book started, and are totally secure and comfortable in their sexualities. This is not something that I, personally, have come across in the LGBT+ YA that I’ve read. When it comes to gay teens, their stories have always been coming out stories, about how hard that is and what being in the closet has done to them and their process of telling people or just hiding the gay away. Those can be important stories, but it’s not all their stories can be. You Know Me Well provides this wonderful take on gay teens where they have, you know, normal teenage problems because they are normal teenagers. They have fights with friends, doubts about college and their futures, problems with their romantic interests who just happen to be of the same gender. I just think the fact that this story exists, showing how there is an After once you come out and it can be good no matter what may have happened during the process of, is amazing and wonderful.
I think everything I mentioned in the previous paragraph heightens my opinion of this book. If this was about average straight kids (like the majority of YA is), I don’t know if I would have liked it as much. The relationship between Mark and Kate was really nice; they became friends really quickly, but truly cared for each other right away and I loved seeing such a strong platonic friendship between two kids of the opposite gender (another thing that doesn’t happen often because they’re usually both straight and fall in love at some point). I could really, really see myself in Kate a lot of the time (especially in terms of how she reacted to certain situations and the way her thoughts spiraled downward a lot). It always means something extra when you can see parts of yourself in a character in a book you’re reading. It’s comforting.
But some of this book was a little unrealistic. I think it’s perfectly believable that Mark and Kate could become friends so quickly, but some of the things they did together and experience in one night and they way that certain events come from that night is pretty unrealistic. The thing is, I don’t know if that bothers me or not. I don’t know if every single contemporary YA has to be 100% believable and practical all of the time. I think the events that occur in this story just add to this magical feeling I had while reading it, and I think that that’s okay. There was also a bit of instalove which I’m usually not a fan of, but in this context it did not bother me very much. Again, it could be because everything I mentioned in the previous paragraph just heightened my opinion of every aspect of this book.
There’s something just kind of really special and glowing about this book to me, I think that might be something really personal and that everyone might not feel, but You Know Me Well is still definitely a very refreshing and positive take on the gay teen experience that I feel is lacking in the YA world. Also, David Levithan and Nina LaCour are just as fabulous and wonderful as usual.