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Reviewed by:
  • You Against Me
  • Deborah Stevenson
Downham, Jenny. You Against Me. Fickling/Random House, 2011. [416p]. Library ed. ISBN 978-0-385-75161-2 $19.99 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-385-75160-5 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-375-98938-4 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7–12..

Eighteen-year-old Mikey, who keeps his family together as best as he can in the face of his alcoholic mother’s neglect, wants vengeance when his fifteen-year-old sister, Karyn, is raped at a drunken party. Ellie, sixteen, gave a statement to the police that covered for her brother, Tom (accused of Karyn’s rape), but is haunted by her protective lies. Mikey meets Ellie in the hope of getting to Tom, but soon Mikey and Ellie have fallen for each other. It’s always complicated being Romeo and Juliet, though, and they have to negotiate their mutual suspicion, Tom’s upcoming trial, and Ellie’s regret and eventual recantation of her original statement. As she did in Before I Die (BCCB 10/07), British author Downham invests a melodramatic premise with perceptive complexity and authenticity as well as the expected high-running emotion. The lovers are thoroughly star-crossed, with Ellie a university-bound nerd from a wealthy family while Mikey’s restaurant job provides the only income other than state assistance in his household, but the book makes their connection believable as they both begin to break out of roles that have become ruts. The strained and shifting dynamics in Ellie’s family are particularly well explored, including the factors that led to Tom’s assault on a passed-out Karyn and the gradual transformation of Ellie’s mother from submissive supporter of her husband’s whims to champion of her daughter. Romance fans will relish the evergreen dilemma of seemingly doomed love.



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