105 Ways to Give a Book

You Is the Best (And That’s Not Bad Grammar)

A TeenReader Tuesday submission:

I love You. I love You so much. I want to keep You on my shelf and read You every chance I get. Notice a bit of a change in normality those past few sentences? It could be due to the fact that you are not You. You is the title of a fabulous book by Charles Benoit, where the narrator speaks to us in second person when describing the protagonist. For example, the fantastic first passage:
You’re surprised at all the blood. He looks over at you, eyes wide, mouth dropping open, his face almost as white as his shirt. He’s surprised, too.
The point of view makes the book very interesting to read, but when I first heard about it, I started to worry. This is the kind of gimmick that an author might use to pull off an artsy story without a plot. But this book really kept me going. The more I got into it, the less I noticed the “yous.” They become the norm, but still, almost subconsciously, add an extra splash of personality to the story. And the story — we haven’t even gotten to that...

YouYou is basically the tale of your average, below-average high school kid — getting into trouble and checking out of school. Needing a friend and longing for a girl, Kyle finds the first in Zack — a new kid with a compelling style — who promises the second with his assistance. Zack seems to have everyone in the palm of his hand, and what looks to Kyle as a way forward turns into a darker path. This riveting book feels as realistic in its high school world, and yet is as dramatic enough to just about make your head spin off in its quick twists and warped turns. I can’t help but love You.

How about you?

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9 comments:

Deb said...

This is one of my book club boys all time favorites (he's 12, read it on break). He _loved_ it, we ordered it for the library. I have not read it read, but will as soon as it arrives.

madelyn said...

I remain conflicted about second person, but curious, too, and will definitely check this out. I use it in picture books, though. And Mary Karr used it in one of her memoirs.Who am I to argue with her???

Eden the StorySnoop said...

The second person POV took some getting used to, but I was completely absorbed by the end of the book. It turned out to be effective, and fortunately the book was short :-) Great read--different and engaging!

LindsayWrites said...

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Meagan said...

I enjoyed this book a lot!! But my question of the few second person narratives in YA so far they have all been male teenagers....

madelyn said...

I heard an interview on NPR recently with Mark Richard, an adult writer, recently (and, yep, male) who had used second person in Prayer House No. 2. He said that using second person had allowed him to talk about personal stuff he otherwise might not have been able to talk about, because it made him more ... I'm pretty sure the word he used was "objective," but I might be wrong. Will have to go back and listen again.

madelyn said...

Or. Wait. Maybe he was saying he'd written in 3rd person because he felt better about revealing things that way. (It was an autobiography.) Never mind!

sally apokedak said...

hmm not sure this one is for me. What's with all the blood? And, yeah, I think the second person can grate after a while.

Michelle said...

I've heard mixed reviews on this one. Knowing that you loved it may put it back on my TBR!