You Against Me is the second novel of Jenny Downham, whose first offering Before I Die I couldn't connect with. Though I found it well written, there was something missing that just didn't make it work for me. I did not have that problem with You Against Me.
I was drawn straight into the very different worlds of Ellie and Mikey from the start. At that point, I could understand both of them and what they were fighting for - Mikey to protect his sister, Ellie to save her brother. I couldn't imagine a worse position to be in and I questioned everything as I was reading - what would I do in the same position? With Mikey and Ellie so clearly attracted to one another, how on Earth do you make that work with the shadow of what happened hanging over you? I wanted them to work through it somehow, I cheered for them, but once more of the truth came out it was hard to feel for Ellie.
Family ties are very important in this novel, and for Ellie to fight them must have been so hard, I realised more as I thought of it. Especially with parents so adamant their son was right, and Ellie questioning everything she thought she knew about the brother who had always loved and protected her. The moment she found herself scared of him, I thought, was the moment she should have told the truth. But reality is a lot more complicated and people don't always do what you think they should. Downham showed this in her novel, as well as how the event impacted the people involved, in a realistic and believable manner. The ending was quite sweet and I liked it, yet I'm still dying to know what happened next and am worried that Tom gets off. Still, the ending leaves you with the hope that what's good and right will prevail. I don't feel sorry for him at all and I don't believe he's realised what he has done to the people around him and to the girl he hurt. That's frustrating.
Still, a fantastic novel that will leave you thinking, I am looking forward to more from Downham.