Last week, I was lucky enough to sit on a hard wooden bench on the lower level of McNally Jackson Books and hear David Levithan and Nina LaCour read from their new book You Know Me Well. David Levithan has long been one of my favorite authors and I’m totally obsessed with Nina LaCour’s novel, Everything Leads to You, so I’ve been looking forward to this book pretty much since it was announced. Still, despite this excitement the mood was somber. To be discussing LGBT YA fiction just days after the Orlando shooting felt hard, appropriate but hard. With readings that ranged from full of grief to full of pride and hope – I knew I’d start reading this book right away. Despite my high expectations, it did not disappoint. Like many Levithan collaborations the story takes place within a fixed amount of time. This time a week, the week leading up to San Francisco’s Pride Parade no less.
Mark and Katie sit next to each other at school, but have never actually spoken. But a chance encounter during an underwear competition in a gay bar changes that. Both are struggling with romantic difficulties. Mark’s in love with his best friend and trying to find out if his feelings are requited or not. Katie’s supposed to meet the girl of her dreams, but feels bogged down by the weight of high expectations. They don’t know it when they first recognize each other in the bar, but Mark and Katie need each other. Throughout a story that explores first love in two different iterations, their friendship is the relationship that feels most celebrated by the last page of the story.
I loved both characters. I loved the quirky adventures they go on and each of their emotional journeys. It was a great book read in between Brooklyn and Manhattan’s Pride celebrations … but also, I’m sure, would be good to read at any time in the year.