Friday, 17 December 2010

You Against Me by 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."

Mikey and his family are fairly poor, his mum is an alcoholic and he struggles to keep his youngest sister in school and food on the table. He has dreams of being a chef, while working in a pub, mostly as a cleaner, because he needs the money. But when his sister Karen is raped, things really start to fall apart. Intent on revenge he ends up heading around to the house of the boy responsible, but instead of finding him, Mikey finds the boy's sister, Ellie.

Ellie and her family are pretty well off. They're intent on proving Tom's innocence and believe money and saying that the girl is simply looking for attention will show that everything is fine, that he didn't do anything. Ellie was in the house the night Karen says she was attacked, but her older brother Tom insists nothing happened, so why shouldn't she believe him? Ellie wants to believe in him, wants things to go back to normal, but they're a long way from that. And when Mikey shows up at her doorstep, they get even more confused.

I really enjoyed this book! It's written in third person, alternating between Mikey and Ellie's stories, so we get the chance to see what's going on for both of them, how they're coping and what it's like from their points of view. It's not a very easy read. It's very painful in places and heartfelt, no avoiding the harsh truths of rape and its effects here.

Mikey and Ellie are both very believable characters and I ached for both of them as they fought to figure out the truth and their growing feelings for each other. I loved the connection between them, how it steadily built, how they both needed an escape of some kind without really realising it. But while there is a love story here, it's not the focus, not really. The main focus remains on the rape and what it means for both their families. Neither one can forget about it for more than a moment or two.

I really enjoyed the development of both main characters throughout the book as the story unfolded. I actually really like that this story wasn't told by the victim, but by the family. And on both sides of it, because rape isn't something that only affects the victim. I also really liked the other elements at play, like the difference in class between Mikey and Ellie and how that figured in to it all. Neither had an easy family life before the assault, and it's harder still for them after, let alone before they got involved with each other.

Overall, a very well written book. A heartfelt story with believable characters and actions. I was almost in tears a couple of times through the story. The late stages of it in particular really moved me. I love that it's unflinching in it's look at the realities of rape. I'd highly recommend this!

Rating: 8/10


Clover said...

YAY. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Avery said...

I don't really read anything besides YA paranormal, but I think that I will have to make an exception for this novel!

The Slowest Bookworm said...

I like the sound of this. One for my wishlist