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You Against Me


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Another intense and uncompromising novel from the critically acclaimed author of BEFORE I DIE.

About the Author

Jenny Downham was an actress for many years before concentrating on her writing full-time. She lives in London with her two sons. Her debut novel Before I Die was critically acclaimed and was shortlisted for the 2007 Guardian Award and the 2008 Lancashire Children's Book of the Year, nominated for the 2008 Carnegie Medal and the 2008 Booktrust Teenage Prize, and won the 2008 Branford Boase Award.


After Mikey's 15-year-old younger sister Karyn accuses college student Tom Parker of raping her, Mikey plans to avenge her. But when he goes to the Parkers' sprawling house, heavy spanner in hand, he meets Tom's younger sister, Ellie, and an attraction sparks between them. Downham's (Before I Die) sophomore novel is set in coastal England, and while there's a fair amount of detail about the English legal and school systems, as well as regional vernacular, the book's powerful themes are universal. As Mikey and Ellie's relationship deepens, and both feel forced to choose "sides," they struggle with their loyalty to their families, their feelings for one another, and broader issues of class, gender, and power. Well-drawn characters allow readers to sympathize with nearly everyone; Ellie, "the primary witness," is in a particularly difficult spot as she begins to waver about testifying for her brother ("I keep going over and over that night in my head and more stuff comes back to me, more things fit into place," she says). With no tidy solutions, it's an unflinching portrayal of love under pressure. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Gr 8 Up-Mikey's life is a juggling act: Mum spends her days and nights with cheap sherry, seven-year-old sister Holly needs help getting to school each day, and Mikey is working at a menial job that offers the hope of a tantalizing career. He faces further complications when his 15-year-old sister, Karyn, completely withdraws, suffering the devastating aftermath of a rape by Tom Parker. Ellie Parker has always been a quiet little nerd until she witnesses her brother's brutal sexual assault of her classmate. The pressure from her family to protect Tom at all costs has forced her into the position of fabricating a statement to the police about what she knows. For both Mikey and Ellie, the balancing act of their personal lives becomes more precarious when they meet. They are drawn to each other but are torn between family solidarity, an inability to trust any member of the enemy's family, and the feelings of their hearts. Downham brilliantly captures the struggle of these two star-crossed lovers as they navigate the stormy waters of family loyalty, social workers and legal systems, job and school. With touching honesty, she brings her characters to life in this poignant story of love and choice. Mesmerizing.-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"An intense and arresting love story" -- Natasha Harding The Sun "An outstanding, compelling drama from Downham" -- Fiona Noble The Bookseller "It's one of the most powerful books we've read in an age. Even after finishing, it lingered with us for days ... Jenny Downham's novel blows other books out of the water" Sugar "I loved it ... Beautifully written with a painful but penetrating awareness" -- Jill Murphy Bookbag "A tale of love across the social divide in coastal Norfolk, with the edge of a crime novel ... Split loyalties and the chasm between the young couple's life experiences make their enduring relationship a triumph. Their credible and tender sexual encounter is the calm before the storm, as for Romeo and Juliet" Observer

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