Author: Jenny Downham
Release Date: September 13, 2011 (hardcover)
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Source: Copy provided by publisher
Overall: 4 Stars
An intense and riveting novel from the critically acclaimed author of Before I Die.
If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge. If your brother's accused of a terrible crime but says he didn't do it, you defend him. When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the offense, 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.
I'd be lying if I said the cover wasn't initially one of the main reasons why I wanted to read Jenny Downham's You Against Me. It's dark and gritty, yet there's something so comforting about the close embrace Mikey and Ellie share as they hold onto each other. It suggests that even though life may suck and throw obstacles their way, they can get through all the madness as long they're together. And, well, I thought the cover was a wonderful reflection of the novel.
While I was reading You Against Me, I tried to place myself in the shoes of both Mikey and Ellie. What would I do in their stead? It's so difficult to answer... and I felt so torn for both of them. Mikey would do anything to protect and care for his younger sisters... and Ellie completely looked up to her older brother. Ellie's eyewitness account could change the course of the case completely, which placed plenty of pressure on her shoulders as she tried to figure out the right thing to do. But what exactly is "right" when either outcome would hurt someone?
Mikey and Ellie had chemistry which easily flowed off the pages, even if their relationship progressed at a faster pace than I might have preferred. Although I may have liked a slower progression, I can still understand the attraction these two shared, as through each other, they found it easier to be more comfortable in their own skin. The doubts they had about themselves seemed to disappear as they found hope in the future. The ending wasn't necessarily a happily ever after for everyone, but it was one I could only settle on as more realistic. It still noted the challenges the characters would have to face beyond the pages.
You Against Me was the first novel I've read by Jenny Downham, and if she continues to write contemporary novels with an intense edge that captures my attention, I'm sure I'll continue to read them. In a novel tackling the lengths we go in the name of loyalty, and the strength of family, friendship, and love in difficult times, You Against Me will prove to be a worthwhile read!
Thanks so much to Random House Canada for providing this review copy!