You – Charles Benoit

youKyle Chase, the 15-year-old protagonist of Charles Benoit’s novel You, isn’t much different from a lot of boys his age. He doesn’t get along with his parents, he’s crazy about a girl who just thinks of him as a buddy and he has a habit of getting into trouble.

Every day you get up, go to school, fake your way through your classes, come home, get hounded about your homework, go online, fake your way through your homework, go to bed – and the next day you get to do it all over again.

This is Kyle’s life. He’s not a bad kid, really. He’s not particularly motivated, but he’s also not as dumb as he pretends to be. Still, his life isn’t really going anywhere…and then Zack arrives.

Zack is clever and charismatic and suddenly Kyle finds himself doing things he never imagined he’d be doing. In some ways, on the surface at least, it would seem that Zack is looking out for Kyle. It turns out, though, that there is nothing magnanimous about Zack at all. Kyle (you) moves through his days in a sort of  anesthetized daze, a sort of listless funk that will perhaps be familiar to teens. When Zack starts to shake things up, at first seemingly benignly, the reader might get the impression that Kyle will make something of himself. Zack is nobody’s friend, however.

Charles Benoit has chosen to write You in the second person, a point of view that will likely be unfamiliar to many young readers unless they are exceptionally well-read. Let’s face it, not many novels are written in the second person. It’s a distancing point of view, somehow, but it serves this story very well because it drops the reader into Kyle’s skin.

When Kyle’s association with Zack starts to spin out of control, the reader knows it will end badly because of the book’s opening line: “You’re surprised at all of the blood.”

You is an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and I suspect many readers would find the book enjoyable..

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