Monday, 5 August 2013

You & I by Emily Gillmor Murphy

About the book
You & I is the debut young adult novel by Emily Gillmor Murphy. The book was published by Transworld Ireland on 6th June and it is 352 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

Plot Synopsis
Living in the Irish country, eighteen year old Olive is about to leave everything she knows and move to the big city for university. Soon after moving to Dublin, Olive begins to be pursued by Tom, a guy who doesn’t think further than the next party or the next girl. Olive decides quickly that Tom isn’t for her and pushes his advances aside. But, when a tragedy strikes Olive’s, Tom is there for her, proving that he can also be a really good friend when he needs to be. Tom’s own family life is far from perfect and in the midst of trying to help Olive and be there for her, he has his own troubles to deal with and knows he can’t do everything all at once. Will he be able to convince Olive that he is the guy for her or will his own life spiral out of control before that can happen?

What I thought
It is such a refreshing change to read a young adult book set somewhere different. I don’t think I have ever read one set in Ireland, let alone by an Irish author. I’m trying to expand on the types of books I read at the minute and try new authors so I was excited about this one.

You & I is told from multiple perspectives, not just those of protagonists Olive and Tom. As Olive has just moved to Dublin to go to University College she moves in with other students and begins to make friends. Tom goes to Trinity College, lives nearby and already has his own set of friends. Along with Olive and Tom, we get to hear from friends and family members which helps the reader to see other sides of the main plot. I really enjoyed being able to get to know more than Olive and Tom. Both of their lives are complex and there are many people involved so it was great to know how events affected everyone.

The book follows Olive and Tom as they try to get through life at college. I really enjoyed reading about the day to day events of this kind of life, because I have done it myself. Some of the scenes in particular felt so realistic as I read them so I wonder whether some of the writing comes from the author’s own experiences. I remember feeling lost during Fresher’s Week, not being able to find my lecture theatres and not knowing everyone. Gillmor Murphy got these feelings perfect and I could imagine myself in Olive’s shoes. I also loved reading about Olive getting to know her new flatmates and having to deal with people from different backgrounds and with different personalities to her own.

Although a debut novel, Gillmor Murphy’s writing and characters are addictive. Olive and Tom are both extremely likeable but it is also possible to sympathise and empathise with each of them due to their home lives. Each character’s background helps to define them as individuals but it also affects how they live their lives. I really enjoyed discovering Olive’s history and to find out about the things which give her motivation. Her story is a little more mysterious than Tom’s as it is very slowly revealed over the course of the book.

The only slight problem I did have with this book was some of the language used. There are scenes of sex and drug use but this isn’t what I’m talking about. Some of the characters are very stiff in their dialogue using things such as ‘I am’, ‘I will’ instead of speaking in a more relaxed tone. I wouldn’t expect teenagers to speak in such a way so it was slightly unbelievable. Even though this language did annoy me slightly, it was quite easy to look over and it didn’t take away my enjoyment of reading this book.

You & I is a wonderful debut novel which deals with real problems, real people and real situations. I’m excited to see what Gillmor Murphy does next. 

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