Monday, 6 December 2010

Review: You Against Me by Jenny Downham


Publisher: David Fickling Books
Format: Hardcover
Released: December 2nd, 2010
Grade rating: B+/A-

Amazon summary:

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother’s accused of a terrible crime but says he didn’t do it, you defend him, don’t you? When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart. When Ellie’s brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

Review:

I'm probably one of the only YA readers out there who hasn't read Jenny Downham's debut novel, Before I Die. I do have a copy, but a while ago I made a conscious decision not to read it, as I just can't deal with that subject matter. I'm really glad I had the chance to read something else by her, though, because she really is as good a writer as everyone has been telling me she is. She's down to earth and honest, which in turn means she provides stories firmly grounded in reality.

You Against Me is as good as it sounds. Brave and unflinching, it dares to delve in to the minds of two people experiencing the same earth-shattering event: rape. When Mikey's younger sister, Karyn, accuses Ellie's older brother, Tom, of raping her, their whole world is turned upside down. There are contradicting stories, family loyalties being tested, and an overwhelming pressure from friends and outside parties. Mikey and Ellie striking up a friendship is the last thing you expect to happen, but it works so well. What better way to test your characters than to throw them into the most unlikely of situations?

Ambiguity is present for much of the novel, as Ellie's story unravels and we question everything that has previously happened. Jenny Downham cleverly makes Ellie a girl you sympathise with, as the position she's in is so horrifying. She did irritate me on occasion though, just because of how she changed her mind so often and couldn't was easily swayed by what she perceived to be right. Saying that, if I was ever faced with what she went through, I honestly don't know what I'd do. I guess until you're up against something as serious and as potentially devastating as that, you just never know how strong you can be. Mikey provides her a shoulder to cry on, as well as the support she needs to make the right choice. His involvement in the proceedings is tricky, and I was often left wondering who needed him more: his sister or the girl he was falling in love with?

You Against Me didn't change my life or add itself to my all-time favourite books list, but it made me think about a lot of things, especially how rape can affect families and those closest to the victim. Lives are forever changed by one person's actions, and nothing can ever make it go away. It's one of those important books that should be spread far and wide, and it's one that demands to be read by classes of teenagers. It's definitely an eye-opener, and a hard-hitting one at that. I won't be forgetting it any time soon.


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15 comments:

Lori said...

I'm really looking forward to reading this one! Great review.

Anonymous said...

I loved this book! I could not put it down. Good review.

Vivian said...

another awesome review, as usual Jenny =)

I'll def be adding this to my to-read list!

BrittLit said...

Thanks for the review, I will be adding this to my TBR pile. I loved Before I Die, so this one sounds great too.

Michelle said...

Great review Jenny! I really want to read this one. Can't wait until it's released in North American. :)

Katie said...

I didn't want to read Before I Die either, just not my cup of tea. So I'm thrilled you reviewed this book by the same author. Something else to try :)

Andrea said...

Interesting. Great review!

Phil Earle said...

really loved this book. Has you switching allegiances all the way through.....

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

I haven't read anything by this author yet, but it sounds like one of those emotional ones that'll jolt me a bit. I'm adding it to my TBR list now =D

LM Preston said...

This is a subject which I find hard to read about. Especially since a younger member of my family was assaulted by her brother's friend. I guess it's a story to be told, but it's just a sad story to me. I'll check out some of her other work. I've seen a lot of positive reviews for her books.

Book Monster said...

Never heard of this book before but it pikes my interesting. Very hard subject matter . I enjoyed watching the video on where she got her inspiration. Great review.

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

Another great great review of this. I really am going to have to read it very soon. And you should give Before I Die a go even if you're not sure of the subject matter. It's amazing.

Bookgirl818 said...

Fantastic review! I just received this today, really want to read it now. I agree with Sophie about Before I Die too, it's truly fantastic.

I Want To Read That said...

I'll third it - you should give Before I Die a try too - it's just amazing!

So glad you enjoyed this one too - It just blew me away!

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Downham really captures the justice system and how not everything is at it seems. Her story lines are always very sensitive and well thought out and I loved the romance between the heart break that was going on. I'd recommended this book to all readers as, just like Downham's previous book, really does change your perspective and keeps you reading.

ASD from London
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