Mark and Kate have sat next to each other in class all year. However, it isn't until they happen to meet at a local gay bar that they actually start talking to each other. They soon find out that they have more in common than they thought, and they quickly form a strong friendship. However, they are both going through personal problems. Mark is in love with his best friend, who doesn't feel the same way about him, and Kate is worrying about her future, and wondering if she is ready to start a new life at college. There's also Violet to consider, a girl who Kate has known for years but who she's only just recently met. As Pride week is in full swing, Mark and Kate must help each other through the week, and decide what they should do.
When I saw the blurb of this book I knew I was going to love it! Although I have never read anything by Nina LaCour before, I am a huge fan of David Levithan so I was excited to start reading this one. The chapters alternate between the point of views of Mark and Kate, which I loved as they are both equally as important as each other. The majority of books have only one protagonist, so I loved that this was a little different, as Mark and Kate were equally important in this story.
As soon as Mark and Kate met I knew that I was going to love this story. Mark is trying to impress his crush and best friend Ryan, while Kate is avoiding meeting the girl who her best friend has constantly been telling her about. I loved how relatable Kate was, as throughout the majority of the novel, she is unsure of a number of things in her life, from meeting Violet in person, to not knowing if she wants to go to college or take a gap year. I loved that Violet was the catalyst that made her come to her decision, and how she became an important person in Kate's life.
I loved how real this book was, as it showed a number of problems that many teenagers face in real life, such as unrequited love, self doubt and huge decisions such as what college to attend. I find that I tend to steer clear of the majority of contemporary novels, as I usually find that they are extremely cliché and repetitive. I loved that this was not the case at all with this book, and although a few problems were resolved, it definitely wasn't a happily ever after, as Mark and Kate still had a long way to go to achieve their ultimate goals. I loved that this showed that life goals take time and don't just happen overnight. I also loved the important message that life is constantly changing, and although you might not live in the same place or have the same friends that you do now in ten years time, you have to live in the moment and stop worrying about too far into the future. I feel as if we are all guilty of this at some point in our lives and are often pessimistic about the future, so I loved that this was addressed in a positive way.
I adored the romance forming between Kate and Violet, and found it extremely sweet and romantic. I loved Violet from the start and found it adorable that she had tried to bring a rose to Kate for their first meeting. I loved the cute little gestures she does for Kate throughout the book, and although their relationship progresses quite quickly, to me it didn't feel forced and seemed to progress naturally. I also loved that they realised how quickly things were progressing, and Violet even asked if she wanted them to tone things down a little. There was no professions of love, which I found to be important as I think rushing into things without getting to know each other first is always destined to end in disaster.
Although I was heartbroken for Mark, I loved that the book showed a realistic interpretation of unrequited love. The majority of us have at some point had a crush on someone who hasn't liked us back, and I feel as if not many YA novels address this extremely common life experience. It would have been only too easy for the authors to have made Ryan change his mind about his feelings for Mark and realise that deep down he wanted to be with him all along, so although I would have loved for them to have become a cute couple, in a way I was actually glad that it didn't happen, as it completely stopped the book from becoming a cliché. I loved that although Mark was clearly heartbroken that Ryan would never be anything more than his best friend, he was still there for him when he needed him. I loved that their friendship didn't end up becoming awkward or that it didn't slowly fade away, and I loved that Mark helped him through his coming out experience.
The friendships in this book were extremely important, and I loved that they were the focus point of this book rather than the romance. I feel as if the importance of friendship is rarely shown in YA books, although to me personally friendship is a more important relationship than romantic ones. A lot of contemporary YA seems to focus on romantic relationships, which I am honestly finding increasingly boring, so I adored that both romantic and platonic relationships were shown in this book. I also loved that it showed that just because two people of the same gender are homosexual, it doesn't always mean that they have to date each other. I particularly loved the friendship between Kate and Lehna, as although they are both lesbian, the idea of being together romantically is something that they've never even though about. I identified with Lehna's struggles, as on multiple occasions I have had close friends replace me with someone else, so I really felt for her when she was upset that Kate was replacing her with Mark.
The book showed the importance of communication, as although having a conversation you have been avoiding for a while can have an upsetting outcome, it allows you to move on and stop dwelling on the fact that you will inevitably have to have the conversation at some point. I also loved that there was representation of trans and non-binary people, as I rarely come across these representations in YA books and feel as if there needs to be a lot more. I honestly both laughed and cried at this book, and even if like me, contemporary is usually not your cup of tea I would still definitely give this one a read!
You Know Me Well is now available to purchase in the UK, and will be available from June 7th in the US!