Author: Jenny Downham
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Publication Date: September, 2011
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction- Romance/Novel
Summary: You Against Me is based off of a theme as old as time- star crossed lovers but set in a modern time where the dueling families are on either side of a rape case.
Mikey's sister Karyn won't leave her house ever since she was date raped by Tom Parker, so Mikey has decided he has to do something about it.
Ellie's brother Tom has just returned from being arrested for the rape of Karyn McKenzie. Ellie was the only person home that night and it is her job to be the main witness to save her brothers reputation and future.
Then at a party for Tom's release as Mikey is searching for Tom to finally get his revenge, he meets Ellie. She is beautiful and it is like she and Mikey were made for each other. But they can't have anything to do with each other... right?
What I Think: This novel throws you right in the middle of Mikey's and Ellie's life where they both are in quite difficult situations. They both feel responsible for protecting their family and it is pulling both of them apart. When the two of them meet in the novel, you can feel the tension through Downham's writing. Ellie resisting Mikey, Mikey resisting Ellie, both resisting their hearts. Man! So intense every time the two of them got together. It was a romance that you root for throughout the book.
And always flowing underneath the romance is the powerful topic of rape. Downham deals with it in a real, but respectful way. It is also interesting to see the topic from both points of view and see how much a crime can affect not only the victim and the victim's family, but the assailant's family as well. It is a point of view that is not often discussed when looking at crimes. Another important aspect of this part of the book is that it also deals specifically with date rape and how no girl is "asking for it" no matter how she dresses or acts. It is such an important thing to teach. In my review of The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney I wrote: This is a very important book. Although too old for my classroom, high school classrooms should make sure to include this book in their libraries. It has a message that is important for teenage boys and girls to hear. It shows that this crime is just that- a crime. "If a person does not say "no," that does not mean he or she said "yes." Silence does not equal consent. Silence could mean fear, confusion, inebriation. The only thing that means yes is yes. a lack of yes is a no."
Although all aspects of the story were well done, I felt that the two main characters and their struggles were by far the strongest in the story. Even though the story also deals with Karyn's rape and the court case, the true story in this book is Mikey and Ellie's.
Read Alone: Grades 9 - 12Read With: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney, Paradise by Jill S. Alexander, But I Love Him by Amanda Grace, Amplified by Tara Kelly
Snatch of Text:
"She didn't even look as she jumped. She knew if she did, she wouldn't be able to do it. Instead, she screwed her eyes shut and leaped into the air. The cold shock of the water was crazy. It was like falling from a plane, plummeting somewhere so alien-cold that ice might gather on her outstretched arms...
He tucked in his knees and jumped like she had. He yelled, all arms and legs, and s splash so big she had to turn her face away. when she looked back he'd disappeared beneath the water. She watched the bubbles and waited." Pg 115-116
Mentor Text for: Descriptive language, Multiple points of viewWriting Prompt: Is it ever okay to lie to protect your family?
Topics Covered: Rape, Love, Bravery, Loyalty, Choice, Alcoholism