You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

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you know me wellYou Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
St Martin’s Griffin, 2016.

Two YA heavyweights – Nina LaCour (The Disenchantments, 2012) and David Levithan (Every Day, 2012) – have co-written this glossy and highly romanticized gay teen love story that is, sadly, just not quite as good as I’d hoped for from these major talents.

Mark just can’t get out of the friend zone with Ryan, and Kate is in love with a girl she has never met. Over the course of San Francisco’s Pride week, these two high schoolers from the East Bay work out their relationship problems, though not necessarily as they might have planned, and come to appreciate their new “rainbow alliance” with each other.

Mark and Kate alternate narration, and though I’m assuming each author wrote as one of the characters, to be honest, I find their voices a bit interchangeable. As they make their way through the week they get to know both themselves and each other, and can start seeing the shape of the future.

The main characters are attractive, though a little too precious, and it is noteworthy that nearly all their friends are gay and lesbian, though pretty much everyone is white and middle class. As you would expect, parents and other adults are in the background, and all are tolerant and supportive.

Art, and the creation and inspiration/source for it, is a key theme. Kate paints and there are some descriptions of her work, as well as a whole (unlikely) plot thread about her having an exhibition at a small San Francisco gallery. There is also a pivotal young queer poetry slam, with several of the poems written out in full – I have to say this does not work for me as well as it might do as spoken word.

I’m not the audience for this book; as Kate says “We grow up and we lose ourselves.” I’m no longer a teenager, and I find some of this yearning and feeling a bit eyerollingly silly, even as Kate predicts I will. Though I have enjoyed individual novels by the two authors much more and this feels like a bit of a tossed off effort, I think fans of smart YA romances will enjoy it.

Thanks to St Martin’s Griffin and Edelweiss for the eARC.

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