You Know Me Well is a standalone contemporary novel.
There’s nothing like happy queer books during Pride month. Especially when said books are set during Pride month themselves.
I loved how queer this was. Every single character but the parents is queer, and there’s almost no homophobia. This isn’t to say that there’s no conflict – I love low-conflict queer romances too, but this isn’t exactly one of them – it’s just that the conflict is never driven by homophobia.
⇝ Kate has always idealized her best friend’s cousin, Violet, but is afraid to get to know her. She also tends to “run away” when she’s nervous, and she’s trying to overcome this.
⇝ Mark has been in love with his best friend for years. This book avoids the tired “gay boy is in love with his straight friend” trope; Mark’s best friend is a gay boy who just happens to not like him back romantically.
You Know Me Well is a story about queer romance as much as it is one about friendship and solidarity between queer people. It’s the story of how Kate and Violet finally met, but it’s also the story of Kate and Mark’s friendship, of how it’s normal to outgrow your friends and crushes, and it’s also about overcoming your fears.
The main criticism I’ve seen is that this book is unrealistic, for two reasons. One of them seems to be that some people think this is too happy, and I don’t agree (…why do people love queer tragedy so much. why.) I’m fine with all the supposedly unrealistic happy coincidences if you’re writing about Pride month. Also, real life is unpredictable too, so why not?
The other reason is that the friendships and romances develop too quickly. This is true, because You Know Me Well is a very short book, but sometimes it’s refreshing to read about relationships not cleanly progressing with established story beats. In a way, it feels more real, because it doesn’t feel like it’s following a scheme (…I often feel this way about romance plotlines). Also, relationships can develop quickly!
One thing I didn’t fully believe in were the friendships that already existed at the beginning of the book. I felt like I was dropped in the middle of a story – I see the friendship falling apart, but I never saw them when they weren’t, so I didn’t feel as strongly about them as I wanted to.
I also didn’t always love the writing. The scenes that were about parades and Pride were beautiful, and I understood the characters, but Kate’s and Mark’s PoV were very similar, which was confusing. I also wish that more identities apart from gay and lesbian had been represented – yes, the cast was mostly queer, but almost everyone was allocis and gay/lesbian.
My rating: ★★★★