You Know Me Well

Last night, I finished reading You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour. This beautiful book is, at its heart, a story about first loves, first heartbreaks, and being true to oneself…even if that means stepping away from expectations.

It’s amazing that a person’s life can change almost instantly, but that’s what happens to both Mark and Kate. Before that fateful night in a San Francisco club, these two kids had barely spoken. They’d passed each other in the hall, but that’s where their interaction ended. How could they have known that they would grow so close in the span of one night?

Kate, who is running away from a potentially momentous encounter with a girl she’s loved from afar, arrives at the club not really knowing what she’s doing there or why she needs to escape what she’s wanted for so long. Mark, for his part, is at the club with Ryan, his best friend and the boy he’s loved for what feels like forever. Mark’s beginning to realize, however, that Ryan may not feel the same.

After a freeing but out-of-character bar-top dance, Mark realizes that he knows the girl across the club, and he makes his way over to Kate. Both of them need a friend in that moment, and that moment becomes something that will carry both of them through the days ahead.

The two new friends will go through an odd but eventful night at some rich guy’s mansion. Through Kate’s splash into the San Francisco art scene. Through Kate’s meeting with Violet, the girl who could be The One. Through Mark’s confrontation with Ryan. Through so much more that will change how they see themselves, their relationships, and their futures.

This book fills a void in many library collections. Gay and lesbian teens don’t see a lot of love stories reflecting their experiences, and You Know Me Well definitely delivers on that front. But this book is so much more than a love story for LGBTQ teens. It’s a love story. Full stop. Now, that love isn’t always romantic, but who says it has to be? Yes, large parts of the book deal with romantic love, but it also focuses on love between friends, old and new, and learning to love oneself, faults and all. That’s huge.

Anyone–gay, straight, however one identifies–will be able to relate to the pain, anguish, confusion, and joy presented in this book. Many readers have experienced unrequited love. Many have felt they didn’t deserve good things that happened to them. Many have had to deal with changing friendships and breaking free of the expectations others have for them.

In short, You Know Me Well, is a book that belongs in all library collections that serve young adults. It’s at once heartbreaking and hopeful, and it is sure to resonate with teen readers who can all-too-easily see themselves in these thoroughly relatable characters and situations.

For more information on You Know Me Well and other books by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, visit Nina LaCour’s website, Twitter feed, or Facebook page, and David Levithan’s website, Twitter, or Facebook page.

I truly hope you find this book as wonderful as I do!

If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince?

The title and cover sort of say it all, don’t they? If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? is definitely a “chick” book. It might as well have a pink cover.  (It’s lavender.  Close enough.)  If you’re looking for a quick, extremely light, somewhat predictable read, this is the book for you.  It’s a nice bit of brain candy after you’ve read something really heavy.  (Think of it as the dessert after a huge meal.) 

Lucy Norton’s life is a lot like Cinderella’s.  Her father’s remarriage has uprooted her from everything she’s ever known.  She has a new home where she feels like a guest…if not the hired help.  She has a stepmother and two stepsisters who only acknowledge her to criticize something.  Her father is largely absent from her life.  She has no friends.  (At least Cinderella had some furry woodland creatures to keep her company.)  And she’s got a crush on the most popular guy in school (the handsome prince, if you will).  How can her fairy tale ever become reality when her life sucks so much?

As you’ve probably guessed, things turn around for Lucy pretty quickly.  Two girls befriend her after it becomes obvious that Lucy’s dream guy might just see her as his dream girl.  All of a sudden, Lucy is the popular girl she’s always wanted to be.  Sure, her life at home is still total crap, but at least her social life is booming, right?  Right?  She’ll just ignore the little voices in her head that tell her that the perfect guy may not be the perfect guy for her.  Join Lucy as she learns that the fairy tale isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  After all, what would Cinderella have done if Prince Charming turned out to be kind of a butthead?

If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? may not be the greatest thing to hit YA literature, but female readers, particularly those in grades 7 to 10, will enjoy this light read.  The book was released in 2005, so I’m betting that a lot of teen girls have already picked this one up.  If not…well, maybe I’ve done a little to get one or two people to escape into this story. 

If you’d like more information about this book or others by author Melissa Kantor, you can visit her website at