You Know Me Well

Are There Lesbians? Yes

What Happens?
During pride week celebrations two almost strangers become best friends, find and lose love and get to know themselves better in the process.

The Verdict:
This is an amazing little book. It took me longer to read than something of this size usually would, because I wanted to make sure to truly savour and appreciate every moment. I kind of found myself in these kids – one of whom, Kate, is just about to finish school and is trying to figure out what to do next, and the other, Mark, who is in unrequited love with their best friend (luckily I am pretty certain The GF loves me back).I think of course, that with such wonderful writing and characterisation I would have found something of myself in them anyway – whether it be Kate’s amazing ability to self-sabotage, or Mark’s determination to make something work (because somehow I manage to be both sides of the coin). This is the first book I have read by Nina LaCour and I can’t wait to read more it is the third I have read by David Levithan, and of his it is my favourite. In fact, so far this is definitely in my top 3 books this year, and I’ve read some good ones! (Although I’m about to start on the new Garth Nix, and he comes with nostalgia and Aussie pride so we’ll see what happens after that!)

Part of what makes You Know Me Well so successful (in my opinion) is the little day-to-day details that make everything seem real. It’s the mention of Kate and her wlw friends liking Tegan and Sara, and transformative moments at concerts when your favourite song plays. It’s Mark and Ryan in the roles of Best Friends daring each other to do things they wouldn’t normally. It’s cats being the only people comfortable in a fancy house and the acknowledgment of roses being left as signs as something that is overly romantic. What I guess I’m trying to say here is that You Know Me Well is a book made up of little moments. They don’t all lead to something bigger, but they are still a part of the lives of the characters who live them, reminding us that in our own lives, the little moments are important for what they are.

It was wonderful and refreshing to read a novel about queer kids which wasn’t predominantly about being queer. Of course that does come into it a little – because let’s face it, being queer is part of who you are, no matter how well or not you fit into the wider culture of “queerness” you tend to ascribe certain aspects of yourself as inherently queer. You find your people no matter what – for me it just turned out that all my friends were questioning their sexualities at the same time as me, if not for that I would have been a lone bi out there in a sea of understanding, well-meaning and allied people who were nonetheless straight. As it turned out we were more than just “really good allies”.

I was in the privileged position to recommend You Know Me Well to a young girl looking for YA books about queers, and thanks to this blog and the delightful amount of writing queers these days; I was so excited to have more than one book to fall back on! I haven’t posted in a while because I often get discouraged easily in new projects, but this has definitely given me the kick to keep going – as a personal database this blog is working wonderfully, and I hope that the few of you who read it are able to make use of it in a similar way.

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