Monday, July 23, 2012

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another. (from GoodReads)

When I first started You Against Me, I really had to push myself to get into it. For some reason, whenever I read books written by British authors, I have trouble enjoying it. I think it's the slang and cultural things that I don't understand that annoys me. But I was glad I stuck with You Against Me because I ended up enjoying it.

You wouldn't think British culture would be that different than American, but reading books like this makes me see the differences. Besides the slang, I still couldn't figure out what "revising" was. Ellie was doing it practically all book, and I think it's studying, but why not just call it that? Also we got a sneak peak into the British justice system, which I wish we could have seen more of. When they said the judge was wearing a wig I had to remind myself that this was taking place in a different country.

I thought that Jenny Downham did a great job of covering the issue of rape. We see two sides of it: brother of the victim and sister of the accused. Even though Mikey and Ellie aren't exactly part of the case, they are still directly affected by it. I liked that both Mikey's and Ellie's actions and motivations were explained and I understood why they did what they did. If someone you loved was accused of a heinous crime, wouldn't you have trouble accepting that? Even though Ellie was in the wrong, I could see how someone in her position would be conflicted, especially when your family is pressuring you to defend your brother.

As I become more invested in You Against Me, the cultural differences melted away, and I started to enjoy the story as it was. Seeing Mikey and Ellie try to contend with such a horrible event and turn to each other for comfort was great and I thought their relationship was realistic. I liked seeing both sides begin the healing process, and I thought You Against Me was a story of hope, above all else.

I think many people will enjoy this book and I urge fellow Americans to give it a chance. The slang might be annoying but underneath that, there's a good story!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2010/David Fickling/413 pages.

1 comment:

Stephanie Ingrid Sarah Kristan said...

AH AH AH AH AH! We just finished reading BEFORE I DIE by Downham, and we looooooved the pants off it! In part *because* of the British-ness. (And mostly just because it's beautifully written and wonderfully heart-wrenching.)

So glad to hear her sophomore effort is also a hit! You can bet we'll be getting our hands on it. Especially with such a gripping premise as that.

Thanks for your great review. :)