You Against Me by Jenny Downham

You Against Me
Jenny Downham
2010, 413 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother’s been accused of a terrible crime and you’re the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn’t that what families do? When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie’s brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn’t do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it’s a book about love – for one’s family and for another

My Summary

I read this a couple weeks ago and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it.

The story is told a few chapters at a time from Mikey’s perspective and then from Ellie’s.  I spent the first couple perspective changes trying to keep an open mind and not choose sides and realized that was never going to work.  I just wasn’t going to be able to commit to the book unless I committed to thinking Tom was innocent or guilty.

So I picked a side and was able to get into the book and it wasn’t too long after choosing that the author started to give clues that I picked the right one.

I like books with flawed main characters – they are more relate-able.  Both Mikey and Ellie are flawed, but everything they do that’s wrong is an effort to try to defend family. 

Mikey feels like he failed to protect his sister so decides on revenge instead and that’s how he meets Ellie.  They connect somewhat quickly even with all the baggage between them and their relationship was believable.

The things I didn’t like about this book (in list form):

Karyn – Mikey’s sister and Tom’s accuser is barely in the book and that felt wrong.  And her switch from depressed to recovered felt WAY too quick.

Ellie’s father is a total caricature.  Totally one dimensional.

Now that I think about it – there weren’t any secondary characters that I liked.  Ellie’s mom improved a little at the end, but for the most part everyone really bugged me.

Spoilerish (highlight to read) – I’m not going to say which, but at the end of the book, either Mikey or Ellie has to stop protecting the lying sibling.  And if I were in that position I don’t think I could do it.  Ever

7 out of 10

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