Review: You Don’t Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow
‘”I never hear these things.”
Strange. How many girls did she knows who had gone through the exact same thing as her – how many times had she sat next to someone in the library, thinking they were doing homework when really they were working out how much it would cost in gas money to get to the clinic and back?’
You Don’t Know Me But I Know You tells the story of Audrey, a girl who finds out that she’s pregnant despite using multiple forms of contraception, and the decision that her and her boyfriend Julian make regarding their situation. Are they ready to become parents, should they put the child up for adoption like Audrey’s biological mother chose to, or would a termination be the best course of action?
I can’t find the words to express how much I loved this book. Not many books make me shed physical tears, but I was 100 pages in when Rebecca Barrow first made me cry (and that wasn’t even during a sad bit!).
Audrey is such a realistic character that she practically walked off of the page. I could hear her voice in my head and feel all of the emotions that she was experiencing, and a big part of the reason behind that is because I was in this situation last summer.
That’s probably why You Don’t Know Me But I Know You meant so much to me: because less than twelve months ago I was feeling the same conflicting emotions as Audrey. September was rapidly approaching and I was supposed to be starting university, and I suddenly discovered that there was a baby on the way. Neither me nor my partner were completely sure if we were ready to be someone’s parents, but we also weren’t sure if we’d be able to give it up for adoption, and I’m pro-choice for other people but personally could never see myself having an abortion.
After months of umming and ahhing we made our decision and chose to have our little one, and this book made me realise that we made the right choice. I’m not saying it’s the same choice that Audrey makes, but she knows her choice is 100% right for her, and as I read her reasoning I knew in my heart that my choice was right for me, too.
I was a particular fan of the fact that Julian was a supportive boyfriend, not dumping Audrey at the first opportunity, and her mum and Adam were very supportive, too. This book doesn’t feature any of the teen pregnancy cliches, which makes it stand out all the more.
So I’m a little biased, but there’s more to this book than just the sensible, balanced discussion of a sensitive subject which I haven’t seen tackled in YA before. Rebecca Barrow’s writing style is also very beautiful, and although I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump over the past few weeks I flew through this novel. All of the characters are realistic, and the arguments between Audrey and Julian and Audrey and her best friend Rose were fights that I’ve had with my partner and close friends over the years. At points it felt as though Barrow basically turned my brain inside out and printed it.
I sincerely hope that she decides to write a follow up to this novel, because there’s a lot of potential development in the background characters. They’ve all got unique personalities and I’d be interested in reading more from any of them, and that’s not something I say very often. Barrow’s second novel, This Is What It Feels Like, is published in November: I’m going to be at the front of the queue to get a copy, because I can’t wait to see what she writes next.
If you’re interested in learning more about You Don’t Know Me But I Know You, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!