Book Review,  Reviews

You Against Me – Jenny Downham

“Mikey couldn’t believe his life. 
Here was the milk on the counter in front of him. Here was Ajay, hand out expectantly. And here was Mikey, scrabbling for coins among the old receipts and bits of tissue in his jacket pocket. A woman in the queue behind him shuffled her feet. Behind her, a bloke coughed impatiently. 
Anger stirred Mikey’s gut. ‘Sorry,’ he mumbled. ‘I’ll have to leave it.’ 
Ajay shook his head. ‘Take the milk and pay me tomorrow, it’s all right. And here, take some chocolate for your sisters.’ 

When Mikey’s sister, Karyn, claims she was raped, Mikey is furious. He wants to find this boy and hurt him like he hurt Karyn. But the police get to him first and its put on hold. Mikey needs to form a plan to get at Tom Parker properly. 
But then Mikey meets Ellie, Tom’s younger sister. At first he thinks she could be useful, but he soon realises that she is nothing at all how he expected, she’s pretty, intelligent and she makes him laugh. The two start something they both know they shouldn’t and yet cannot stop. 

I was told that this book was amazing, I knew it would be. That’s why I pre-ordered it before it came out… in July of 2011, and yes, I’ve only just got round to it. My bad! 
The story is like a modern day Romeo and Juliet. I didn’t realise before I started reading that the meeting between Mikey and Ellie was planned, that Mikey purposely tried to get to know her to get revenge on Tom… but that becomes apparent early on and whilst I was worried about where it would go from there, I was happy once I knew how things panned out. Both Mikey and Ellie are torn when it comes to the assault, Mikey wants to hurt Tom for what he did and Ellie doesn’t want to believe it. There are doubts in her mind and that is what leads her to do the things she does. Mikey is under presure becuase his mum is a drunk and Karyns retreated into herself and Mikey is left looking after the house whilst Social Services start sniffing around. It was hard to read about and I think the glipses you get of what Mikey was like before all this, with Sienna and his past girlfriends, are there to remind you about how much he has changed since finding out what happened. 
The characters are amazing and its because of them that this sad, emotional tale is worth reading. The subject matter isn’t a nice one but with the focus on two characters who weren’t directly involved in the assault, it makes it easier to read. Its still a difficult subject and Ellie goes through things she should never have to, Mikey is reminded on a daily basis how much it has tormented his sister and the close proximity of the main characters to those involved in the assault was a reminder of how it would not only effect the victim, but also their family and that of the accused. Tom was a bit of a prick and I kinda wish we knew a bit more about his from before, other than what Ellie came from Ellie’s perspective as she wasn’t a very reliable narrator. I thought he was innocent for what he was accused of sometimes but then didn’t at other times. I wished I knew him better to work out if his reactions and the things he said were normal. However I think the book did a brilliant job of showing his turmoil at the same time. Karyn was a very bold character and she had an attitude, I couldn’t help but think of her as a girl who people would probably call a slut, it was awful but I knew that that still didn’t mean she deserved what happened to her. 
Jenny Downham really took a very difficult subject and handled it brilliantly. The topic is hard and the relationship between the two main characters is more than crazy, but it makes an amazingly emotional story which grips you from the very start. I needed to know what happened at the end and how everything ended for all the characters, which I didn’t quite get but I got enough to love the book at the end just as much as I did the whole way through. 
You Against Me was published in July 2011 by David Fickling Books. My copy was purchased online. 

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