You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

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For my second YA novel of this month, I chose You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan.

I picked this book up last year in hopes of learning more about sexual identity and preference. It was way before I started reading diverse books, but even then I was curious as to stories like this. I was afraid of approaching people and still afraid to this day to say something stupid or make someone feel uncomfortable, so I decided to look for books that talked about being gay or questioning your identity. I definitely knew I didn’t want to be the dolf that said “so what does being gay mean?”

The great thing about You Know Me Well is the subtly of the subject. It’s not this big shout to the void screaming I AM GAY AND I HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT. The story begins with the characters already knowing this about themselves and they blossom like flower buds to fully incorporating their lives with the new knowledge that they have.

I had read Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay a few months back and she was able to do this subtle conversation about sexual preference in that novel as well. It didn’t read about a girl who is trying to figure out if she’s straight or gay. It read like a story of a young woman lost from the tragedies bestowed on her life and how she found solace in her first soulmate ever. It was beautiful.

I think the important lesson about sexual preference and identity is normalization. Asking questions and trying to understand why someone was gay are all in the past. At this point, in 2017, you either are or you’re questioning and your sexual preference doesn’t define you. Your friends are your friends because you like them and you get along. They’re not there to be your “gay best friend” or have the word “gay” put in front of phrases like “bestie” or “shopping buddy.” We’re at the point where no one should be defined by their sexual preference unless they want to.

But let’s get into the details of the story and stop talking politics.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book written by two people, but somehow these two authors are able to seamlessly combine their two stories into one. Honestly, it felt like one voice the entire time coming from one author, but what each author brings is a sense of authenticity. You’re the gay jock that’s in love with your best friend or you’re the girl in love with a crush for so long it’s almost surreal to be with them in real life. Mark and Katie dealt with things only teenagers go through and they were able to find each other to help figure this out on their own.

I loved that after a night of knowing each other Mark and Katie were just best friends. They were looking to each other for advice and trying to help each other as if this was something they did all the time.

Mark was in love with his best friend, so it made it difficult for him to discuss things with him that he wanted to talk about specifically about their relationship. Katie was in love with her best friend’s cousin and while she was secure with her feelings for her, she somehow managed to mess it up at every turn.

It was quite cute and beautiful at the same time. The writing is effortlessly easy to get through and a lot of it was conversational. I think that’s the great part about YA sometimes. You don’t get too caught up in making the language something out of an AP English class, but you make the subjects hard hitting ones where the people they’re meant to attract will learn a little bit about society.

You can find a copy of You Know Me Well: A Novel on

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour


IMG_2657Well, it took me long enough to write up this review and I want to do it justice because We Are Okay was one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read in 2017. I finished reading this one on the flight to Florida earlier in April and sadly, it took me this long to write the review. Will I ever be better at this? It’s now my personal goal this year to be a bad ass book blogger and not bore you with things like life updates <_<


28243032You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

Rating: 5/5 wintry evenings

My thoughts

Just a heads up, I have a lot of thoughts about this book. Good thoughts, but thoughts.

I truly loved this story and in the past few chapters of this book I couldn’t put it down. The story is laid out in a past/present format alternating between what happened before Marin disappeared and what’s happening in the future. The writing was in Marin’s point of view and really captured a maturity in someone who has seen a lot of tragedy in her life.


The message: People grieve in different ways. Some people cry it out. Others hide it behind a mask. Some people push others away while others bring people closer. We lash out. We fight. We love. We create. We destroy. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a friend, a loved one, a favorite pet. This is a story that shows the ways we grieve and how even though we try our best to keep a smile on our face or show people we’re ok, we’re sometimes not.

The story begins with Marin, a teenager who recently lost her grandfather. She’s in her dorm room in New York waiting for her childhood friend, Mabel, to arrive and spend the Holidays with her. However, there’s a huge veil of mystery surrounding Marin and the most important one being where she went for the few weeks before her first semester at school started.


As the story goes along, you realize that Marin not only lost her grandfather, but her mother as well. What you get from Marin is raw, emotion-filled anxiety about who she is, who her family is, and will she ever recover from the loss of every stable entity in her life. She does the one thing that only makes sense to her and that’s to run away.

Fortunately, what you find is that she isn’t alone. Before disappearing, Marin developed feelings for her best friend Mabel and the two of them spent their summer languishing in youthful love. I loved the story between Mabel and Marin. It was unobstructed and not the plot of the story. This story could easily have been the struggle of two teenagers finding true love and the struggle for them to be accepted by society and their family, but it wasn’t and I loved it. The message stayed pure and that is that sometimes loss takes different forms in different people, but I think the most important message to take away from all of this is that nothing stays lost forever.