Friday, 3 December 2010
Review: You Against Me - Jenny Downham
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: