You Don’t Know Me But I Know You – Rebecca Barrow – HarperTeen – Published 29 August 2017
There’s a box in the back of Audrey’s closet that she rarely thinks about.
Inside is a letter, seventeen years old, from a mother she’s never met, handed to her by the woman she’s called Mom her whole life.
Being adopted, though, is just one piece in the puzzle of Audrey’s life—the picture painstakingly put together by Audrey herself, consisting not only of the greatest family ever but of a snarky, loyal, sometimes infuriating best friend, Rose; a sweet, smart musician boyfriend, Julian; and a beloved camera that turns the most fleeting moments of her day-to-day routine into precious, permanent memories.
But when Audrey realizes that she’s pregnant, she feels something—a tightly sealed box in the closet corners of her heart—crack open, spilling her dormant fears and unanswered questions all over the life she loves.
Almost two decades ago, a girl in Audrey’s situation made a choice, one that started Audrey’s entire story. Now Audrey is paralyzed by her own what-ifs and terrified by the distance she feels growing between her and Rose. Down every possible path is a different unfamiliar version of her life, and as she weighs the options in her mind, she starts to wonder—what does it even mean to be Audrey Spencer?
You Don’t Know Me But I Know You is another book that has left me with very mixed feelings. It has a writing style that is easy to read, but without characters who really grabbed me, I struggled with reading this book. In the end, I would pick it up only to put it down and distract myself with another book. I guess I was expecting something different. Something that broke all the moulds and would make me care about this story, care especially about this girl and her journey through a surprising discovery and hard decisions.
When Audrey discovers she is pregnant it forces her to evaluate her life and what she wants from it, who she wants to be. It brings into focus her relationships, with her supportive, musician, going-places boyfriend, her snarky, infuriating best friend, her wider group of friends, her adoptive mother, and even her biological mother, who has always remained somewhat of a mystery.
There are a lot of things to give the author points for in this book. Her main character is a person of colour. There is a bisexual best friend. There are plenty of other characters from diverse ethnicity. But sometimes it felt a little like they were also just boxes on a checklist that had been ticked off. There was nothing new or groundbreaking to make this story or the characters’ stories within jump out and grab me by the heartstrings.
At the end of the day, the reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I expected to was that I just didn’t connect to Audrey. I guess she has the excuse of hormones but watching her lash out at everyone around her wasn’t fun. I didn’t see a lot of growth or change in end character. I also wasn’t invested in her choices (which sounds pretty harsh). I’m glad she was so happy with her choice. Happy she was so quick to go back to partying and freaking out about outfits and being glad it was all over and that she could go back to her life and that they didn’t ‘lose’ everything. But I wonder if such a choice is ever so easy. I also thought it made it sound like she made the ‘right’ choice. And I don’t mean the right choice for her but that she would have been ‘stupid’ to choose any other way and I think that is judgemental and a terrible message to send. Also, I think it is very unrealistic to believe that she will always be happy with her decision, tomorrow, two weeks or a couple years from now. She might be, but she also may not be happy. She won’t know. If any of us knew that we would never regret anything, would always make the ‘right’ choices!!
Okay, Audrey does gets points for telling her boyfriend about her pregnancy almost immediately. Big bonus points for that. And I could totally understand her not wanting to tell anyone else for a while. While her friends are going on with their lives, falling in love, she is struggling with one of the biggest decisions of her life. Not easy. But I found this book was actually focused a lot more on her friendships than her pregnancy and certainly more on that than of her search for her biological mother. I must have misread the synopsis because I thought a lot more of the book would be focused on Audrey’s biological mother. Aside from a letter she receives from her biological mother, there isn’t much more to that part of the story.
Overall, this book wasn’t for me. It didn’t stand out from the many other books out there with similar themes and I certainly didn’t connect with the characters. I fear my reaction may differ from the majority, so I encourage you to try it for yourself.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Family, pregnancy, abortion, friendship, teenage pregnancy, relationships, adoption, mothers.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Sexual references, references to ongoing sexual relationships, implied sex scenes with minimal details. Underage drinking. Mature themes, abortion. Frequent coarse language, f*** (41), sh** (87), assh*** (13), bit** (13), di** (3).
Published: 29 August 2017 by HarperTeen.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 336 pages.