Friday 3 December 2010

Review: You Against Me - Jenny Downham

If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right?

When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart.

If your brother's accused of a terrible crime but says he didn't do it, you defend him, don't you?

When Ellie's brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel.

When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

I can't find a website for Jenny Downham but you can visit her Goodreads page here

Mikey and Ellie's upbringings couldn't have been more different.  Mikey comes from a single parent family and lives in a flat on a council estate with his alcohol dependent mother and 2 younger sisters.  Ellie on the other hand has been brought up in a posh house with rich parents who expect her and her brother to do well at school and head off to university.  Their worlds collide when Mikey's sister Karyn accuses Tom (Ellie's brother) of date rape and life will never be the same again for any of them.

This is the first book I've read by Jenny Downham but it definitely won't be the last.  You Against Me captured me right from the beginning and although it covers difficult themes it does so in a thought provoking way wrapped up in a great story.  Told from both Mikey and Ellie's perspectives you get a real insight into what it must be like for the family of both the victim and the accused in situations like this.  The way the story unfolds it takes quite a long time before you find out what really happened on the night in question which had me alternating between sympathy and suspicion for both Karyn and Tom.  I enjoyed trying to put the pieces together and figure out what really happened.

Both Ellie and Mikey are likable but flawed characters, they both make mistakes but I think they were understandable mistakes considering the situation they found themselves in and they both felt more real to me because of them.  The budding romance between them was sweet and believable with each of them offering something that the other desperately needed.  However I really liked the fact that the romance didn't overshadow the family relationships and various reactions to the alleged assault and the pending court case.

Mikey feels that he has let Karyn down because he didn't prevent the attack from taking place, his sister is a shadow of her former self and he would do anything to make her happy again.  His mother doesn't know how to cope and has turned to alcohol leaving Mikey to look after the house and both of his sisters.  Angry and frustrated Mikey focuses on revenge against Tom as a way to deal with his feelings.  Things are very different in Ellie's house.  Her parents are determined to show the world that they believe Tom is innocent, after all it must be difficult for any parent to accept the idea that their child could be capable of committing such an act.  Ellie is pushed to the sidelines while her parents focus all their attention on Tom, in fact the only thing they seem to want from Ellie is for her to be a witness in Tom's defence.  Ellie was the only other person in the house on the night of the attack and she desperately wants to believe that Tom is innocent but there are things about that evening that are bothering her.  Surely Tom couldn't have done it though?

You Against Me was an enthralling read and one that you won't want to put down. I really liked the fact that the ending wasn't all wrapped up with a neat and tidy bow - in a situation like this there is no such thing as a happy ending.  Whether the rape actually took place or not all of the characters involved are going to have to live with the accusations that have been made for the rest of their lives.  Whoever the innocent party is they are either a victim of a sexual assault or the victim of vicious lies and either way there will be consequences.  I liked the way the reader doesn't get answers to all of their questions and you have to draw your own conclusions.  This is one of my favorite reads of the year and Jenny Downham has been added to my list of authors to watch out for.  I've head great things about her first book Before I Die and am really looking forward to reading it.

Source: Received from RHCB in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
I Want To Read That
Writing From The Tub
I Was A Teenage Book Geek
The Bookette
Chrissie's Corner
Girls Without A Bookshelf
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.


  1. Thanks for adding my link already :)

    Since reading this one I've also heard loads of good things about Before I Die, so when the snow is gone I'll be popping to the library to get it!

  2. i literally can't wait for this - I loved before I die. Fab review

  3. Nice review. The book sounds really good. I hope I could have this by Christmas.

  4. I absolutely LOVED Before I Die. I cried like a baby. Great review. I cannot wait for this one. I love Jenny Downham

  5. I think this is the second positive review I've seen of this book. It does sound interesting.

  6. Wow, this sounds like a great book. This is actually the first review of this book that I've read even though I've seen reviews around.

    Your review was great, very detailed. The only thing I'm sure I won't like is the open ending, questions such as who the innocent party is and so on not being answered will bother me.

  7. Lovely review! You against me sounds good and I'm hoping to read it sometime this year or next year!

  8. This sounds like a thought provoking book. I definitely want to read it.

  9. This is a first time I'm hearing about You Agains Me but I'm completely enthralled. Looks exactly like something I'd enjoy. Thank you very much for this review Sarah :)

  10. This book is on my must-read list.It sounds fantastic and your review makes me pine for it even more.

  11. Thanks for the review!

    I heard about this book not too long ago and was immediately intrigued. I would like to see how the romance blossoms in such unfavorable circumstances. One of my favorite reads this year was Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles which also had that forbidden relationship theme. I guess I'm just drawn to it. I'm also very curious to see how everything plays out with the accusation.

  12. I am very intrigued that you loved the open ending. I kind wanted a little more but I couldn't work out what. I thought the book was brilliant and the voices were pitch perfect.

  13. Wow it sounds like a really good book! On my TBR list :)

    sophiayunjin at gmail dot com

  14. This book first caught my eyes because of the cover, and then the summary just made me want to read it! Doesn't it kind of sound a bit like Leaving Paradise? I think so. I heard a lot of good things about Jenny Downham's writing and I really want to read this book!

  15. really looking forward to read this.

  16. No happy endinding? Can't think of a book I read that hadn't one, so I am very interested in reading this one. I also like the application of two perspectives. Great review, thanks:)

  17. Thanks for the review! I've been eyeing this book for a while now.

  18. Thank you for the excellent review! This book instantly caught my attention and interest when I first saw it on Goodreads.

  19. This book sounds sooooo good, thanks for your review and giveaway!

  20. I, too, adored Before I Die. It was interesting to me to see (on Goodreads etc.) that folks either loved or hated Before I Die. I wonder if reaction to this book will be similar?

  21. Sounds like a very thought provoking book. Thank you for sharing your review.

  22. Great review. I have many desire to read this book.

  23. Wow, this sounds like such an amazing read filled with such depth and emotion. Great review, thanks for posting about this book, I would love to get ahold of this book

  24. Good review! I really want to read it.

  25. Nice review!! The book sounds really good, I didn't read Before I die either but i've heard really good things about it.

  26. Enojoyed your read and would love to read this one ;) thanks for posting my tbr pile is continually growing with so many great reviews out there. !!!
    Thanks for making it international as well.

  27. This sounds like a really great book.

  28. Before I die was amazing and so emotionally draining. Just amazing. I am so excited to see she has another book coming out =D

  29. Thank you all for your comments, I'm glad you like the sound of this one - it was a great read! It's nice to see so many of you enjoyed Before I Die too - I really am going to have to read that soon :o)

    @ Chrissie - You're welcome :o) I need to read Before I Die too, it's been on my TBR pile for ages lol

    @ Kirsty - Thanks :o) I hope you enjoy this one as much as Before I Die

    @ IvaliceAlliance - I'm glad you like the sound of it :o)

    @ Vivien - Good to know I need tissues to hand before reading Before I Die lol

    @ Lanta - This is definitely a book I'd recommend :o)

    @ Kulsuma - I think you get enough information at the end to know who is guilty and who is innocent but you don't get to see exactly what happens to them all after the truth comes out. Hopefully it would be enough information to satisfy you though :o)

    @ Precious - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did

    @ FairyWhispers - I'm glad you liked it :o)

    @ Eva SB - It was definitely thought provoking & one I'd recommend

    @ Judit - I'm glad you like the sound of this one, it was such a great book & deserves to be successful

    @ Misha1989 - I'm glad this is on your must read list - I'm sure you'll enjoy it :o)

    @ Edna - I really liked Leaving Paradise but I think I actually enjoyed You Against Me even more. They both have that forbidden relationship theme going on & are very well written

    @ Becky - you're right that the voices were very realistic, I loved both Mikey & Ellie :o) I thought that the ending would have been less realistic if Jenny Downham had tried to give all of the characters a happy ending. It would have been interesting to see more of the court case though

    @ Sophia - I'm glad you like the sound of it :o)

    @ Kai - It's a little like Leaving Paradise in the way romance develops in the most unlikely circumstances. Apart from that the stories are very different & I enjoyed them both

    @ Ivan - I'm glad you're looking forward to this one - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :o)

    @ Miss Page-Turner - I really like a story that is told from two different points of view as long as both voices are well written & in this case they definitley were :o)

    @ Mithee - I'd definitley recommend giving this one a try!

    @ Reading Lassie - I'm glad you liked my review, I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did :o)

    @ April X - You're welcome :o)

    @ Ashley Hope Perez - I really do need to make sure I read Before I Die soon! I hope you enjoy this one as much

    @ Michelle - It's definitely thought provoking & one I'd highly recommend :o)

    @ The Itzel Library - I'm glad you like the sound of this one :o)

    @ Jolene - This was definitely an emotional read & one I really enjoyed

    @ Lucy - Thanks :o) I'm glad you liked it

    @ Carol - I was feeling like I was the only person who hadn't read Before I Die yet so I'm glad thats not the case :o) I've heard so many good things about it & it's one I'm planning on reading soon

    @ Katrina - I know what you mean about the ever growing TBR pile lol. I've added so many books to my wishlist since I started blogging :o)

    @ Kat - I'd definitely recommend this one

    @ She Known As Jess - You've made me want to read Before I Die even more now :o) I hope you enjoy this one as much

  30. Hey Sarah, I link to your review from a blog post that'll be up Monday. It includes my review of BEFORE I DIE, so I hope it helps to bump that title to the front of your to-read queue!

  31. Hi Ashely, thanks for including a link to my review. I'll have to check out your post tomorrow & make sure I include a link on mine :o)



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