24 November 2011

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Flap Copy from ARC: "If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If you're brother's accused of a terrible crime but says he didn't do it, you defent him, don't you?

When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart. When ELlie's brother is charged with the offense, her world begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide."

This well-written novel addresses the very real issue of sexual assault in high school. I believe it was an accurate representation of what it would be like for a high school girl who got drunk at a party and was taken advantage of, only to face people who either don't believe her or believe she invited the assault because of the way she chose to act and dress. One surprising element to me was that it seemed all the high school kids were on her side, and against the accused assailant; I would think it would be more split and he would have people in his camp as well.

The writing here is casual and easy to read even if the subject matter is not; the author definitely invited you to be an up-close observer of the action. The novel featured well-flushed-out main characters that were distinct and had a clearly defined role in the plot. The best character by far was Ellie, the sister of the alleged assailant (Tom); her being torn between what she knows she saw and the story her brother and parents have told her to tell is very real and a bit heart-wrenching -- she's only a kid, and has to decide between telling the truth and saving her beloved older brother.

I was disappointed by how the parents of the accused rapist are portrayed - never once do they ever act as though their son did anything wrong, they never ask him if he actually did it, they never seem upset - only angry at their daughter for not being willing to blindly follow the family's story. They were infuriating (presumably by design) and I found it very difficult to relate to them as characters.

A good read about an intense subject - I give it 4 stars.