Sunday, 19 December 2010
Review: Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick
With her parents' nineteen-year marriage shattered by the revelation that her father has been having an affair, only child Alex has been forced to leave the familiarity of her old life and move to a new town with her mother. While she wants nothing more than for things to go back to how they were, she soon finds that relationships are never that easy. Drawn into the twisted world of new schoolmate Fred and his possessive twin sister Adina, Alex finds herself caught up in a triangle of her own.
Unusually short for a YA novel, Her and Me and You (just barely) unfolds in a series of brief, blink-and-you'll-miss-it chapters. There's a certain brittle beauty to Lauren Strasnick's understated style, which is startling at first but surprisingly easy to settle into. There are no wasted words here: the characters' pithy, barbed dialogue is framed sparingly but tellingly by Alex's minimalist narration. From casual beginning to the enigmatic final pages, this is a book that packs an emotional punch far above its weight.
Part drama, part coming-of-age story, Her and Me and You sees its heroine coming to terms with the fact that the seemingly straightforward relationships of her childhood can't stay that way forever. Try as she might to hold onto the perfect three of her family unit or the perfect two of her relationship with lifelong best friend Evie, the post-childhood world just keeps on throwing these complex and painful triangles at her. While for the reader this means plenty of conflict and drama to keep those pages turning, it's also a thoughtful look at the love triangle as a motif - questioning our natural inclination to cast characters in this situation as victim or villain. Alex's journey is mirrored by that of the novel's main antagonist, love interest Fred's somewhat unstable twin sister Adina, whose own situation is just as heartbreaking in its own way.
Her and Me and You is a bittersweet and compulsively readable tale that sets Lauren Strasnick apart as one of the most striking voices in contemporary young adult fiction. It's elegant and raw and insightful all at the same time. Pick it up if you're looking for an edgy, intense read that you won't want to put down again.
Out: October 5th 2010, US