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Review: You Against Me (Downham)

AUTHOR: Jenny Downham
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: David Fickling Books
ISBN: 9780385613507
PAGES: 413
SOURCE: public library
GENRE: realistic; romance
GIVE IT TO: HS boys/girls

SUMMARY: Mikey’s 15-year old sister Karyn just accused Tom Parker of rape, and Mikey is seeing red. When he goes to Tom’s house to “bash in his face,” Mikey does not expect to meet Tom’s younger sister Ellie. Mikey pretends he is someone else in order to get information about Tom from Ellie, who wholeheartedly supports her brother and believes in his innocence.

READALIKES: Leaving Paradise (Elkeles); Perfect Chemistry (Elkeles); Speak (Anderson)


  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: medium; a couple of F–; lots of British-isms
  • Sexuality: high; characters have sex and date rape is central to the story
  • Violence: medium-high; rape (the before and after are described but not the during); physical fighting between boys
  • Drugs/Alcohol: high; teen characters drink, smoke cigarettes and marijuana

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: Due to mature content, we don’t have it. I do, however, strongly urge high school librarians to consider You Against Me for their collections. Rape is a very serious topic, and a book like this may help facilitate dialogue about date rape, what it is, and what to do about it. This book may help a girl who encounters date rape find the strength to speak out.

WARNING: The reviews on this site are intended for librarians who need thorough book reviews in order to make informed purchasing decisions. As such, anything below this warning may contain mild spoilers. I try not to give away too much, but I do review the entire book.

WHAT I LIKED: I loved EVERYTHING about this book! Mikey and Ellie make believably-flawed protagonists who are doing what they believe to be the right thing. I love the alternating perspectives and the way the same event can be skewed and twisted so much that the truth may never come out.

The third-person alternating viewpoints reminded me a little of Simone Elkeles’s books, which will especially appeal to many teen girls looking for books like Perfect Chemistry and Leaving Paradise. The rich girl/poor boy star-crossed romance is tried-and-true, and I will be recommending You Against Me to lots of my former library kiddos (now in high school) on Goodreads. While this will mainly appeal to the girls, I don’t think boys should count it out. Half of the story is told from Mikey’s perspective, and I think many boys will identify with Mikey’s anger and his struggle to hold his family together amidst a major crisis.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: Seriously, I loved the whole book. I read it in one day, and I am a pretty slow reader. The only thing that bothered me was the name “Mikey.” It just makes me picture a little boy with a runny nose and a red cap on sideways. Not exactly what I want to envision from the romantic lead.

For some readers, the British slang might be confusing. I had to look up the definition of “spanner” online, and I read books with British slang often. For me, the British-isms make the book even more authentic, but some readers (particularly ESL readers) will be thrown off by it.

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