September 21, 2011

Review: You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Hardcover, 413 pages
Published December 2nd 2010 by David Fickling Books

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.

You Against Me has to be one of the most touching stories I've read in a long time. It involves two families, both being torn apart by an irresponsible decision made by two immature teenagers, and two individuals who get ripped apart inside by love and doing what's right for their families.

Mikey's sister says that a boy name Tom raped her. When all this comes out in the open, their lives completely take a turn for the worse. Karyn refuses to leave the house, their mother is slowly drowning herself in pain and guilt, and Mikey is killing his brain trying to figure out how to make things better for them all. He's angry and wants justice.

Ellie's brother Tom says he is innocent. Ellie feels it’s her job to protect her brother and believe in him. Her family is suffering because of Karyn's accusations. All she wants is for life to go back to the way it was before Karyn. It's killing her to watch her brother worrying all the time and always on edge.

What they both need is a way to clear their heads. For something to distract them from everything that is going on. To feel alive and pretend for one second that their lives are completely different. They find this by being with each other knowing that any minute this can all blow over their heads. They begin sneaking around with each other and giving each comfort that they couldn’t find anywhere else. Of course there are trust issues between the two, but they never once doubt how they feel for each other. Neither one of them expected to fall in love. The guilt of betraying their families was big on their heart.

I was seriously at the edge of my seat with hundreds of butterflies in my stomach whenever they got together in the book. I was waiting for them to get caught, or for something crazy to happen. I felt so bad for them and their families, but I was rooting for them. They just needed to be together.

Jenny Downham touches a very scary and intense subject that I believe can help victims who have or know someone who has gone through something like this. Not so much the romance part of it, but the issue of rape. Mikey and Ellie’s world was so believable, that I felt like I was going through it all along with them. I don’t know what I would do if I was torn between the truth and a lie. When the truth finally comes out, things just get even more extreme for Mikey and Ellie and they find themselves even more lost and confused than before.  This story was just beautiful in every way. The outcome was heartbreaking, but a relief at the same time. I loved it!

You Against Me is definitely for a much more mature audience.

5 out of 5 Stars!


  1. I have been wanting to read this one forever! I am just going to have to suck it up and order it from the Book Depository :)

    That Bookish Girl

  2. This sounds like a compelling read, thank you for sharing your thoughts on it!

  3. This sounds like a gripping read. Thanks for letting us know about it!


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