You Know Me Well

You Know Me Well

by David Levithan, Nina LaCour


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Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

A book told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments, and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250098658
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/06/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 128,027
Product dimensions: 5.52(w) x 8.18(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

NINA LACOUR is the award-winning author of Hold Still, The Disenchantments, and Everything Leads to You. A former indie bookseller and high school teacher, she lives with her family in San Francisco.

DAVID LEVITHAN is the New York Times bestselling author of YA novels, including Another Day, Two Boys Kissing, Every Day, Boy Meets Boy, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green). By day, he works as an editor. By night, he lives in New Jersey.


Hoboken, New Jersey

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

New Jersey


B.A., Brown University, 1994

Read an Excerpt

You Know Me Well

A Novel

By Nina LaCour, David Levithan

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Nina LaCour and David Levithan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-09864-1



Right now, my parents think I'm sleeping on the couch at my best friend Ryan's house, safely tucked into a suburban silence. At the same time, Ryan's parents think he's in the top bunk in my bedroom, slumbering peacefully after a slow night of video games and TV. In reality, we're in the Castro, at a club called Happy Happy, kicking it up at the gaygantuan kickoff party for San Francisco's very own Pride Week. The whole spectrum is in attendance tonight, breathing in the rainbow air and dancing to the rainbow sounds. Ryan and I are underage, underexperienced, underdressed, and completely under the spell of the scene pressing up against us. Ryan looks a little bit scared, but he's trying to hide it under an arched brow and a smoke screen of sarcasm. If someone he doesn't like approaches us, he'll hold my hand to make himself seem taken, but otherwise it's hands-off. In the context of our relationship, this counts as logic: We are just friends except for the moments when, oops, we're more than just friends. We don't talk about these moments, and I think Ryan believes if we don't talk about them, then they haven't been happening. That's what he wants.

I don't know what I want, so mostly I go along.

It was my idea to come here, but I never would have been able to do it without Ryan at my side. I've stuck to the halls of our high school, living my out-to-everyone life pretty much the same as before everyone (including me) knew. Only now it's the last week of junior year, and it felt like it was time to take that forty-five-minute leap into the city. "Sweet sixteen and never been risked," Ryan calls my life — as if he's been sneaking out any more than I have. Luckily, I look older than I am — to the point that an opposing coach once wanted to see my records, to make sure I wasn't a college-age ringer. I don't have a fake ID or anything, but at a place like Happy Happy on the first night of Pride, it's not like they check. We just had to look like we knew what we were doing, and that got us in.

I was a little surprised when Ryan said he'd come, because he insists that his being gay is "nobody's business." Where this leaves me I'm not exactly sure. There are times I want to shake him and say, Dude, I'm the baseball player with the jock friends and you're the sensitive poet who edits the lit mag — shouldn't I be the one who's scared? But then I think I'm not being nice, or at least not being understanding, since Ryan has to figure things out for himself. There is no way whatsoever to figure things out for someone else. Even if he's your best friend who you always end up fooling around with.

It's really dark and there isn't much room to move. We're getting plenty of wolfish looks from other guys. When they're cute, I think Ryan likes it. But I feel awkward. Meeting someone new was not the reason I came here, although maybe it crossed Ryan's mind when he said yes. There are some guys at the party who look like what my dad would look like if he wore lots of leather, and there are others who look like they're auditioning for selfies. Everyone's sentences crash together to make this gigantic noise, and my thoughts overlap so much that all I can feel is their loudness.

The parties I've gone to before have been held in basements and school gyms. Now it's like I've walked into a wider, narrower world. Robyn is singing about dancing on her own, and people are verbing their bodies along to that. These are not the people I usually hang with. We are not in Brewster's rec room, watching a Giants game. This is not a beer crowd. Everyone here is a cocktail.

We're not quite at the bar and not quite on the dance floor. Ryan's about to say something, but a man with a camera interrupts by leaning in front of him and asking me who I am. He can't be older than thirty, but he has bright silver hair.

"Excuse me?" I shout over the noise.

"Who are you?" he asks again.

"I'm Mark," I say. "Why?"

"Do you model?"

Ryan snickers at this.

"No!" I answer.

"You should!" the guy says.

I'm thinking he can't be serious, but he takes out his card and gives it to me. Before I can say anything else, there's the pop-burst of a flash. I'm still blinking in the afterglow when the photographer touches my wrist and tells me to email him. Then he vanishes back into the crowd.

"What was that?" I ask Ryan.

"Are you talking to me?" he replies. "I'm afraid I'm currently invisible. Or at least I'm invisible to noted fashion photographers."

Ryan is just as cute as I am, but it's against the rules for me to tell him that.

I let the card drop to the floor and say, "Whatever."

Ryan bends down, picks it up, and hands it back.

"Keep it as a souvenir," he tells me. "I mean, it's not like you're actually going to do anything about it."

"Who says?"

"Let's just say history is on my side."

Not untrue. I am shy. Sometimes painfully shy. And it's especially painful when someone reminds me about it.

"Can we look around some more?" I ask. "Maybe dance a little?"

"You know I don't dance."

What he means is: He doesn't dance when other people are watching. This was his excuse when I wanted to go to our junior prom together. It would have been a big step for us, and he looked at me like I'd asked if he wanted to make out in a shark tank. In front of his parents. Instead of saying we couldn't go to the prom because he wanted to keep us a secret, he wrapped his refusal in a blanket dismissal of dancing. I knew he wasn't going to put me through the indignity of watching him go with someone else — he wasn't going to try to live that lie, at least. But he wasn't going to go with me, either.

I ended up staying home instead. He came over and I thought he was going to make it up to me, but instead we watched There Will Be Blood. Then he went home.

I can understand not wanting to dance in front of everyone we know. I can see that's a big deal. But I was hoping it would be different here. I was hoping that being among all these happy, happy strangers would change the game.

"C'mon," I say, trying to keep my tone light. "It's Pride Week!"

Ryan's eye has already moved elsewhere. I follow his gaze to find this very pretty college guy in Clark Kent glasses and a simple blue T-shirt with a slight rip on the left shoulder. He'd be the apple of any bookworm's eye — he's much more Ryan's type than I'll ever be. He senses Ryan looking at him ... then senses me looking at him and meets my eye instead of Ryan's. I quickly look away.

"I saw him first," Ryan mutters. I think he might be joking, but something in the pit of my stomach tells me he's not. Then he says, "Oh man." I look back up, and Indie Bookstore Clark Kent has his arms around a boy who's wearing a ski hat even though it's June. Hat Boy leans in for a kiss and Clark gleefully obliges. If it were manga, hearts would be rising like balloons over their heads.

"Happy Happy is depressing depressing me," Ryan says. "You promised me fun. Where's the fun?"

That had been my big argument — it'll be fun. What I didn't add was that I thought the idea of sneaking out of my house, tiptoeing to the train, and coming into the city where no one else really knows us would be ... romantic, I guess. On the ride in, it was almost like that, like it was an adventure we were sharing. I pressed my leg against his and he didn't move away. We sat there making jokes and imagining the look on my mother's face if she checked up on us and found the room empty. (My mother gets upset when a pillow is out of place on the sofa.) I thought that people looking at us would see a couple, and I got a sense of confirmation from that.

Now I'm guessing we look like two friends. I probably look like Ryan's wingman.

"I want a drink," he declares.

"You'll get caught," I remind him.

"No, I won't. Have some faith. Some of us aren't Timid Timmys."

I follow him as he presses into the crowd and makes his way to the bar. I wonder what would happen if I stopped walking, if I let the crowd fill up the space between us. Would he notice? Would he wade back to find me? Or would he keep going, because forward is his destination and I am not?

I falter for a moment, and in that moment he reaches for my hand. As if he senses my doubts. As if he doesn't need to turn around to know exactly where I am. As if everything we've been through has at least constructed this connection, this much of a bridge.

"Stay with me," he says.

So I do. And when we get to the bar, Charming Ryan returns. The shadows fall from his mood. When the bartender comes over, Ryan tosses out his words like he knows they'll float into the ears of anyone who hears them. The bartender smiles; he can't help but like Ryan. This is the boy I fell for, about eight years after we first became friends. This is the boy who made me want to be who I am. This is the boy I can borrow my confidence from.

The bartender comes back with two flutes of champagne, and I can't help but laugh at how silly it is. Even though I don't drink, Ryan slides one of the glasses over to me.

"Just one sip," he says. "If you don't, it won't be a toast. It'll just be a burnt piece of bread."

I relent and raise my glass. We clink, and then I sip while he downs. When he's done, I give him mine to finish off.

"I wish you'd live a little," he says when the bubbly's been popped.

"What does that mean?" I ask, even though we've had this conversation before.


"It's not nothing."

"No, it is. It's precisely nothing."

"What's precisely nothing?"

"The degree to which you put yourself out there."

I have no idea why this has become the subject.

"What are you talking about? A failure to finish my champagne makes me — what? A Cowardly Connor?"

"It's not just that." He points his empty glass at the crowd. "This room is full of attractive men. You are a fine specimen of boyness. But you're not even looking around. You're not trying. That guy gave you a card you'll never use. Other guys keep looking at you. You could totally work it. But you don't want to."

"What would you have me do?" I spy the sign-up sheet next to his elbow. "Join the midnight underwear contest? Dance around on the bar?"

"Yes! That is exactly what I'd have you do!"

"So I can find a guy to hook up with?"

"Or talk to. Don't look at me that way — we're far from the only teenagers in this place. Mr. Right could be right here, right now."

Can't you see it's you? the part of me that should know better wants to ask. But that, too, is against the rules.

"Fine," I say, and before Ryan can say another word I am reaching across the bar for the clipboard. I pull the ever-present pen from his pocket and write my name down.

Ryan laughs. "No way. There's no way you'll follow through on that."

"Watch me," I say — even though I know he's right. I'm fine in the locker room, or with Ryan. But in public? In my underwear? That would seem about as likely as me going home with a girl.

Still, it's one thing for me to have it in my head that I'm not going to do it and quite another for Ryan to have it in his head. Because the more he insists I'm going to flake out, the more I want to prove him wrong. There's definitely a double standard here — there's no way he would do it, either. But I'm the one who's being dared.

We bicker along these lines for a few more minutes, and then it's midnight and the DJ is telling all the underwear contestants to make their way to the bar. The bartender puts all the names in an upturned pink wig, then yells my name out first, followed by nine others. The man next to me immediately starts to take off his clothes, exposing a steel-armor chest and graph-paper abs. I think I may have seen him swimming in the Olympics, or maybe it's his Speedo-shaped underwear that's tricking me. The bartender says we'll be starting in a minute.

"Now or never," Ryan tells me. From the way he says it, I can tell his money's on never.

I kick off my shoes. As Ryan watches, dumbstruck, I pull off my jeans, then remove my socks, because leaving my socks on would look ridiculous. I cannot give myself any time to think about what I'm doing. It feels strange to be standing barefoot in the middle of a packed club. The floor is sticky. I pull my shirt over my head.

I am in my underwear. Surrounded by strangers. I thought I'd be cold, but instead it's like I'm feeling the heat of the club more fully. All these bodies clouding the air. And me, right at the center of it.

I don't think I'd recognize myself, and that's okay.

The bartender calls out my name. I hand my shirt to Ryan and jump onto the bar.

My heart is pounding so hard I can hear it in my ears.

There are loud cheers, and the DJ throws Rihanna's "Umbrella" into the speakers. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I am standing on a bar in my red-and-blue boxer briefs, afraid I'll knock over people's drinks. Obligingly, the patrons pull their glasses down, and before I know what I'm doing I'm ... moving. I'm pretending I'm in my bedroom, dancing around in my underwear, because that is certainly something I do often enough. Just not with an audience. Not with people hooting and whistling. I am swiveling my hips and I am raising my hand in the air and I am singing along with the "-ella, -ella, -eh, -eh-." Most of all I am looking at the expression on Ryan's face, which is one of pure astonishment. I have never seen his smile so wide or so bright. I have never felt him so proud of me. He is whooping at the top of his lungs. I point at him and match his smile with my own. I dance with him, even though he's down there and I'm up here. I let everybody see how much I love him and he doesn't shy away from it, because for a moment he's not thinking about that — he's only thinking about me.

I take it all in. The world, from this vantage point, is crazybeautiful. I look around the crowd and see all these people enjoying themselves — having fun with me or making fun of me or imagining having fun with me. Pairs of guys and pairs of women. Young skateboarders and men who look like bank presidents on their day off. People from all over the Bay Area patchwork, many of them dancing along, some of them starting to throw money my way. Clark Kent's in the crowd, looking me over. When I see him, I swear he winks.

I feel my gaze pulling itself back to Ryan. I feel myself coming back to him. But along the way, someone else catches my eye. Before I can return to Ryan — while I'm still up there in my underwear, thinking he's the only person in this whole place who knows who I am — I see another face I know. It's like the song stops for a second, and I'm thrown. Because, yes, it has to be her. Here, in this gay bar, watching me dance near naked over a carpet of dollar bills.

Katie Cleary.

The senior I sit next to in Calculus.



"Tell me about her again," I say.

I change lanes on the top deck of the Bay Bridge so that we get the best view of the city lights, even though June and Uma are kissing in the backseat, oblivious to the scenery, and Lehna is busy scrolling through her phone for the next song we should listen to.

She laughs. "I don't know if there's anything left to tell."

"It's okay if I've heard it before."

The first chords of "Divided" by Tegan and Sara start to play, and for a moment I remember what it felt like for Lehna and me to stand in the sea of girl-loving girls at their concert when we were in eighth grade, how I felt something deep in the core of my heart and my stomach that told me yes.

"She got home on Tuesday," Lehna says. "And she was pretty jet-lagged, but she told me she was used to traveling, not getting much sleep, keeping weird hours in general. When I talked to her on the phone she was sewing sequins onto a scarf. She says she likes to sparkle at Pride."

"Do I look too plain tonight? I am the opposite of sparkling."


Excerpted from You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour, David Levithan. Copyright © 2016 Nina LaCour and David Levithan. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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You Know Me Well 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
NicFictionAddiction More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this one—more than I expected to, honestly. I don’t know why, but somewhere along the way I’d gotten the idea that this wasn’t going to be a “me” book (which is probably why it sat on my shelf for so long). So, I was incredibly pleasantly surprised when I connected to the story and the characters right away. I would recommend this book if you’re looking for an emotional, self-reflective friendship story with well-developed characters. The friendship between Kate and Mark is definitely the best part of the book. ***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via BEA 2016 in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
mdemanatee More than 1 year ago
This one called for some suspension of disbelief. But Levithan and LaCour can write sentences. Some dang good sentences filled with heartbreak, hope, and discovery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Laura_at_125Pages More than 1 year ago
You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour is a touching story of first love, both found and lost. Mark and Kate have never been friends but on one crazy night at San Francisco Pride, they become an intrinsic part of the other’s life. Kate is running from the girl she has loved from afar and Mark is trying to tell his best friend he loves him. From dance clubs to crazy parties to school and dealing with parents, Mark and Kate become each others life raft through a few crazy days. I really enjoyed the plot of You Know Me Well. Young love is hard to handle and it was treated with care and consideration. Yes, at times it was very obvious what was going to happen, but it all made sense in the telling. The writing of David Levithan and Nina LaCour was very well matched. Sometimes with co-authors it is very easy to tell where one author starts and the other one begins, but here, they were one cohesive voice telling two distinct but intertwining stories. The pacing had a few issues in the transitions, but nothing that affected my reading experience. The world built was great. Bright and detailed I could picture every scene. The emotions ran high in this story. Young love is always fraught with many feelings and they were on display here in a great way. I loved most of the characters. Mark and Kate were fantastic and they really played well off of each other. Kate’s school friends left me a little cold as they were only concerned with themselves, but they were also teenagers so it fit. You Know Me Well is a sweet look at teen love that I really enjoyed. David Levithan and Nina LaCour wrote a touching story that made me smile throughout my reading. I love that the authors treated diversity with such normalcy, as it should be, and that they took care to show their characters with real feelings. Yes, I could tell what the ending was going to be and I didn’t care, as the path to it was done in such a fun and touching way. Original review @ I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
COBauer More than 1 year ago
I’d like to begin this review with a quote that I feel completely and utterly defines this book: “Hiding and denying and being afraid is no way to treat love. Love demands bravery. No matter the occasion, love expects us to rise…” YOU KNOW ME WELL by Nina LaCour & David Levithan is a truly beautiful story about friendship, love, and finding yourself. Two LGBT teens, Mark and Katie, have been in school together for years—they even sat next to each other in Calculus. However, they never really spoke before… that is until they bump into each other at SF Pride for one crazy night before they graduate. An unexpected friendship forms and they each embark on an intense journey of self-discovery. This book is sweet and absolutely charming. This is a story of bravery—not just about coming out, but being brave about who you really are. These characters dig deep and find a way to allow themselves to do what they know, deep in their hearts, is right for themselves. Some great life lessons… In order to find true happiness, you may have to defy expectations. Life is about honoring your truth (whatever that may be) and learning to love yourself. Highly recommend!
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
Oh my gosh. This book! It is for books like this that I bother reading contemporary YA. So many times they don't work for me, but this book was amazing. The emotions. Wow! So raw. Mark and Kate meet at a bar on the first night of Pride Week. They are both struggling with something huge. Mark is in love with his best friend, Ryan, and their friends with benefits type relationship is no longer working for him. He is desperate for Ryan to notice him as a boy and not just as a friend. Kate is supposed to finally meet her best friend's cousin, Violet, who she has loved from a distance for a while, but she's scared to take that next step. I love stories about instant friendship. Mark and Kate are so honest with each other. They can share feelings and thoughts that they cannot share with their other close friends because of their history. Each chapter just kept getting better and better. Some of the scenarios were a little crazy, but I loved getting to know these characters. I was routing for them the whole time, and I was silently cheering them on as I was reading. The whole book takes place over Pride Week, but Mark and Kate go through some pretty heavy stuff during those 7 days. The story is told in alternating chapters - David Levithan writing as Mark and Nina LaCour writing as Kate. I think I enjoyed Kate's chapters a little more, but I'm not sure if it was Nina's writing or the female POV. All of the writing was pretty fantastic. I struggled with this rating. I almost went for 5 stars, but there were some things I couldn't completely wrap my head around in the plot. And sometimes there were these weird jumps forward in time followed by some back filling of the details, and it was a little hard to follow. Otherwise, I LOVED this book.
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
I love Nina's words and will greedily look for all of her books. I requested this book on her name alone, I didn't even read the synopsis first. I loved Katie and Mark. I loved how they struggled with their similar-but-different situations. I love how they relied on each other to help. And I more than loved the dual POV. Nina's words {and David's too} are filled with such longing. I felt everything that these characters did. From the rush of a first kiss to the excitement of a pride parade to the uncertainty of the future -- I was right there with them and I loved every single page of it. This will be something I read again and collect all of the copies. If you're not reading Nina's words, you're missing out. **Huge thanks to St. Martin's Griffin and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love is not a choice, or a phase. It is a human right. To spread the word use the hashtag #loveislove on other books with LGTBQ+ info. <3