You Against Me By Jenny Downham
I picked this book up having read Before I Die by the same author, i thought it would be a lighthearted YA romance. Imagine my shock at the darker YA themes i encountered.
You Against Me follows the story of Karyn McKenzie and Tom Parker. When Karyn claims that Tom sexually assaulted her the plot begins after the aftermath and the sought after truth. When Karyns brother Mikey meets Ellie who is Toms sister and they begin to get closer their conflicts of interest become apparent. With Ellie trying to defend her brother and Mikey seeking justice for his sister will we ever discover the truth of what happened?
The story is dark and is not for the younger YA reader, the themes are mature and it was much closer to a NA read for me and it had sexual content, violence and strong language. The book handled the issue of rape very well it delved in head first into how its one persons story against another which was abundantly clear from the title of the book. Karyn struggles to leave the house after the alleged attack and isolates herself from her family, her mother doesnt deal well with the trauma and turns to alcohol as a coping mechanism leaving Mikey solely responsible for the care of the younger 8 year old sister and ensuring that Karyn is ok. Ellie on the other hand is her brothers sole witness as she was present in the house the night of the alleged attack. She feels an enormous amount of pressure from her parents to defend her brothers honor and to say what she needs to to ensure that he will not go to prison for a crime she is convinced he did not commit.
As Mikey and Ellie grow closer she realizes that she needs to do the right thing and tell the truth regardless of the consequences.
This is a heartwarming story about love and family. I really enjoyed how believable the characters were and that it wasnt glorifying or unrealistic. I think the YA genre needs more books like this to make teens more aware of the risks of under age drinking and sexual assault, it also touches on the issue of consent.
A few things i didnt like was there was no resolution in the end, i would of much preferred to hear the outcome for Tom following the court case. The ending was a little premature and felt all of a sudden. It doesnt leave the reader with a sense of closure especially after 400 pages!
All in all, this is a 4 star book for me.