You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Posted On 23 February 2011

Filed under Book Reviews, Challenges for 2011

Comments Dropped 2 responses

You Against Me, to quote the jacket, is ‘a brave and unflinching novel …  It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it.  But above all it’s a book about love’.  And, I couldn’t agree more.  This is a very thought provoking novel that tackles the subject of teenage rape and looks at the effects this has on not just the victim or perpetrator but on the rest of the families involved.

Basically the story involves Mikey and Ellie.  Mikey and Ellie come from different sides of the tracks, Ellie from a priveleged background and Mikey from a run down estate where he lives with his alcoholic mother and two younger sisters.  When Mike’s sister, Karyn, accuses Ellie’s brother, Tom, of sexual assault their two lives are set to collide.

I don’t think this is a book that you would ever describe as enjoyable as the nature of the story makes such a desciption seem inappropriate.  However, I think this book is incredible.  It raises so many issues (class divides, loyalty, sexism, family values), is totally absorbing to read, the writing is excellent and the characters are portrayed so well – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever read read a more convincing male than Mikey.

The story is also about love – but not just a romance – the love between both families and the anguish and pain they’re going through.  Of course, a romance develops between Mikey and Ellie and so comparisons to Romeo and Juliet, for these two starcrossed lovers will be inevitable.  I liked the relationship though, it was really well written and I thought believable but for me it was not the main element of the story.

This book created such turmoil for me.  I wanted to believe Tom, I wanted to believe Karyn (I actually know who I thought was lying but wanted to be wrong!)  I felt awful for the families – especially both the mums – and thought it was interesting to see how they both reacted and changed throughout the novel almost becoming stronger in the process.  I was desperately reading on hoping for a happy ending but at the same time doubting the prospect of one…

Under the circumstances, I think the ending was perfect.  I’m not going to go any further because I don’t want to say too much and spoil the book for others.

I actually don’t have any criticisms for this book – I think it just needs to be read!

Rating A+


You Against Me

You Against Me