15 May 2012

you against me

by Jenny Downham

Random House. Young Adult. Paperback RRP $24.95

Reviewed by Barbara Brown

Mikey’s fifteen year-old sister, Karyn, says a boy has raped her. Ellie is the same age as Karyn and goes to the same school. Ellie’s older brother, Tom, is the boy Karyn has accused.

Socio-economically, Ellie and Mikey are worlds apart. Ellie comes from a well-to-do family, with a big house and holidays overseas. Mikey lives in the housing estates in the middle of town. Ellie and Mikey would never normally meet, however Mikey is out for revenge for his sister.  He didn’t know Tom had a younger sister, a girl who from the first time they meet, steals Mikey’s heart.
The two try to hide their feelings from each other and their respective families, but when Ellie changes her story about the night Karyn is allegedly raped, all families are thrown into turmoil and Ellie has only one person she can turn to… Mikey.
you against me is a modern day story with hints of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Jenny Downham has captured issues that face many teenagers. The ending is unexpected and the outcome is left unresolved. I think there is a second book to come and if not, my imagination is left to finish the story my way.

1 comment:

  1. You Against Me is not the story of rape that one would expect. While it does show Karyn's fear and self-loathing after having been assaulted it focuses primarily on her brother's quest to get revenge on the perpetrator of the crime. In equal parts it also focuses on Ellie's journey to both determine the truth of the matter as well as stay loyal to her family. Along the way Mikey and Ellie find themselves growing closer together until they are undeniably in love. Love doesn't come without cost though, as Ellie and Mikey both learn. Because it all comes down to the underlying truth, which neither is telling each other or themselves. Thus the push and pull of the story is born.

    Told in alternating points of view, Downham sets out on an emotional trip through each character's development. The stronger arc of the two is Ellie's. Here is a girl who is from a privileged family; a family that is used to closing ranks in the face of any adversity. A family that will do anything to keep the status quo and maintain their image. But Ellie, she's starting to realize that she's not like her brother or parent. She strives for something more, she strives to be able to live with herself. A journey of self-discovery that is not without a great deal of pain. But this is what makes it so real and so enjoyable. That even though Ellie endures quite a bit as a result of her brother's actions she learns from his mistakes and comes out on the other side a stronger and more capable young woman.