Wednesday, 8 December 2010

You Against Me - Jenny Downham

Author: Jenny Downham
Date of release: December 2010 (UK)
Number of pages: 416
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Also by this author: Before I Die

Book Girl Rating: * * * * *

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. This is a brave and unflinching novel from the bestselling author of Before I Die. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it’s a book about love.

After reading Jenny’s first novel, Before I Die, (which I adored), I was almost obligated to see what she’d write next!   Jenny definitely delivered with You Against Me, a searing and challenging novel about assault, loyalty and love.

I was drawn into this book almost instantly (to the point that I stayed up most of the night to read it!) and I wasn’t disappointed.   The story is this: Both dealing with the same shattering concept, rape, Mikey and Ellie couldn’t be further apart.

Ellie’s brother Tom is the accused and Mikey’s sister Karyn is the victim.  So, through the minds of these two siblings, we see the events unfold.  Mikey wants revenge for his sister and Ellie wants to believe her brother.  But when the two of them meet, the two worlds collide. 

The main characters, Ellie and Mikey are fantastic.  Especially considering it is their siblings who are battling this and people seem to forget about the effects on them; specifically Mikey’s drunken mother and Ellie’s possessive father.  Not to mention pressure from other friends and enemies alike – forcing these characters to face this trauma almost alone. As Mikey and Ellie get to know each other, the uncertainty is clear.  We’re kept in the dark for several chapters as the story of events unfolds.  As a reader, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how I’d deal with such an event; then the additional struggle of familial loyalty, the difficulty of choosing between the right thing to do and following your emotions – I felt for these characters so deeply - both characters want to believe their siblings, and that was the most relatable part of the book; we would protect our siblings in the face of anything.

Jenny’s writing is simply ace.  I guess what I love about her writing the most is its realness – she makes the characters reachable and readable in equal measure – it’s mesmerising and down to earth.  I also love the third person perspective as it acts as an overview; we hear what both characters think and feel. 

To summarise, this book is as bold and steadfast as critics and reviewers post it to be.  It’s a story about sexual assault and the consequences that occur from that; and it made me really consider the consequences of one dark action – that changes lives forever and can’t be swept away.   

The happier consequence is that this book really is about love – how it conquers social and class boundaries and challenges loyalties; and it’s about two people, who in the midst of such overpowering chaos, find something in each other – something real and worth fighting for. 

Reviewed as part of Nat's Little Reading Challenge.

3 comments:

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  2. I NEED to read this book! Gotta save up some money, Christmas left me kind of broke xD
    Great review ;)

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  3. Thank you - I hope you get to read it soon, it's truly a wonderful read.

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