You Against Me

You Against Me

by Jenny Downham


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.

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“It was strange how words meant something when they came out of your mouth. Inside your head they were safe and silent, but once they were outside, people grabbed hold of them.”

I wanted to read this book from the moment I heard about it.. But, while waiting for it to be published, I read Before I Die first (and I didn’t really liked it) so I didn’t know if to read “You Against Me” after all, no matter how many good reviews I’ve seen.

But.. yesterday I gave it a try and now I can’t stop wondering why in the world didn’t I read it earlier?
It was that good.

The title is perfect – and it doesn’t define only the relation between Ellie and Mickey, but also the relation between all the characters because at some point there is always someone against the other one -they always make choices and they are left to deal with the consequences.
I loved the fact that this was not a fairytale and every action they made was getting them to some place new, every time they tried to fix something, there was another thing that went wrong.. I felt like watching a movie, I found myself reading in a ‘fast-forward mode’ (or so it felt) because there were so many things happening. There were even so moments when I found myself asking Aah, tell me again how did they get to this point? and I kept reading with my mouth wide open.

Before reading it, I thought that the story would be about who was saying the truth and who was lying – and maybe in a way this is true.
But I was surprised to see that this story was more about choices, and family, and loyalty, and love, and trust.. about finding the soft line between what’s right and what’s wrong – because what was right for someone it was always wrong for the other.

you-against-meMickey is trying to take care of his family ( his sister Karyn going through such a rough time, his little sister so innocent of all this, his mother that couldn’t cope with all that happened and lost herself into drinking). Even though he is older than Karyn he makes a childish decision – to kick Tom’s ass, as if this would make up for what his sister was going through.
But meeting Tom’s little sister and starting to care for her it’s something that he never thought would happen, and so they get thrown into such a difficult situation – they are so different and have such a different purpose: she is rich, he is not.. but more than that she is a witness in the trial, and what she says can change everything.

Ellie in a way is trying to just the same thing – take care of her brother – but more than that she wants to get through the trial and be free again.
Her family has as many problems as Mickey’s, even though money are not on that list.
The father is as cold as ice, her mother has no voice up until the end, and Ellie’s brother is in big, big trouble and his life depends on what his little sister knows.
But does anyone think about what Ellie wants? Does anyone care about her needs? She is just a child and she feels completely alone until she meets Mickey.

Now I must say that there some things that I really liked about this book:

#1 – the love story – there was such a smooth transition between the moment they met, the moment they realized how much they liked each other and the moment they knew they were in love. It was some kind of modern “Romeo & Juliet” story, and I wanted so badly for them to figure out a way to be together, to make things right again and just enjoy being together.

#2 – the fact that being from “different teams” in this trial and being involved with each other didn’t get unnoticed. And the consequences were somehow realistic.

#3 – the relation between the members of each family. I loved to see how Mickey’s family found a way to change some things, and it was hard not to understand the situation in Ellie’s family even at the end. I keep thinking about them all and I should congratulate the author for handling so well this situation because it was damn difficult. I know, I make no sense but it’s hard to keep this review spoiler free.

#4 – the characters – they were all described very well. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes, but I could understand them (or most of them). It was great to see how one’s decision could change other’s life, and they changed through the story, and they picked sides, and they did things and had to deal with consequences… and at the end they all understood. (and I won’t say more)

Even if there is not a clear ending, it was perfect for the story.
I wanted to know what happened next (I still want), I wanted some more answers, but it also gave me hope.. and this is enough.

All in one, this is a great book – amazing – and full of emotions … it’s one of those books that make you think what would you do?

“Sometimes if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen. If you miss someone so desperately that it wrecks your insides, you say their name over and over until you conjure then. It’s called sympathetic magic and you just have to believe in it to make it work.”

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2 responses to “You Against Me”

  1. Racquel says:

    perfect review!!

    -thank you&come again.

  2. Ari says:

    Yours too, sweetie, I’m glad you loved it as well 🙂

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