You Against Me
If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If you’re 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 into a new school begins to unravel.
When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skilfulness and almost unbearable tension. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But most of all it’s a book about love – for one’s family and for another.
When I picked up ‘You Against Me’ I really didn’t know what to expect. From the blurb I thought that behind the darkness and drama the book sounded very much like a modern day Romeo and Juliet - and in some ways, it was. Yet at the same time it was uniquely its own story. Based around a crime of rape this book explores the themes of loyalty, trust and first love as the two most unlikely of characters are brought together in an unexpected romance.
When his sister Karen is raped, Mikey is determined to bring justice down on her alleged rapist Tom – and he is more than willing to use Tom’s little sister Ellie to do it. However Ellie is also out searching for the truth of what really happened on the night Karen was raped, and despite their own hidden agendas; the two find themselves reluctantly falling for each other. Yet when both their loyalties are tested, they are forced to face the ultimate choice and decided between their families, or the possibility of true love.
However, not only does this book have a great plot full of intrigues and complexities but Jenny Downham portrays every issue with care and sensitivity. She reveals both sides of the coin, exploring how the crime of rape affects not just the victim and the assailant – but their families as well.
For example through Tom’s family you see their blind faith in him, the pure denial of that he could possibly be guilty of such a crime, the pressure of the media and how Ellie is bullied in school because of her relation to him. While from Karen’s side of things, you see how easily her cry of rape is discredited due to her style of dress and the poor social class of her family – a family who are trying everything to support her and find her justice. You also see the affects the rape has on Karen herself, her solitude and depression as well as the sheer fear that no one will believe her.
Honestly overall I have to say that the author really did this story justice. It was a very moving and thought provoking read and the contradicting beliefs of both families will you keep you guessing right up until the end. Total praise for Jenny Downham ! :)