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You Know Where to Find Me

Review

You Know Where to Find Me

Rachel Cohn has been lauded by young readers and critics alike for her popular books like GINGERBREAD and (with David Levithan) NICK & NORA'S INFINITE PLAYLIST. In titles like these, she gains teens' respect by writing honestly and openly about difficult subjects, even within the context of "traditional" romance fare. With her latest novel, YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND ME, Cohn takes this honesty a step further in her darkest and most intense fiction to date.

"To us, 'cousin' meant almost the same thing as 'sister,'" writes 17-year-old Miles about the relationship between herself and her cousin Laura. The two girls, raised almost as close as sisters, shared nearly everything, from the ominously imaginative games they played as children to the horde of prescription drugs they abused as teenagers. In many ways, Laura and Miles could not have been less similar, especially as they entered adolescence. Laura was the fairy tale princess, strikingly beautiful, immensely popular at her exclusive private school. Miles, with her pudgy body and lack of self-esteem (Laura's "wider, duller half"), never quite fit in to her mostly black Washington, DC charter school, where she was nicknamed "8 Mile."

But when Laura, following in the footsteps of her favorite fairy tale princess, Sleeping Beauty, decides never to wake up --- killing herself with an overdose of the prescription medications she and Miles have used recreationally --- Miles realizes that perhaps she and Laura shared the same outlook on life's hopelessness after all. Plunged into grief and helplessness by the loss of her cousin/sister and best friend, Miles embarks on an odyssey of self-destructive behavior in the months following Laura's death. Along the way, she discovers painful realizations about her complicated family life, about her feelings toward her best friend Jamal, and even about her loyalty to Laura.

Rachel Cohn pulls no punches in her depiction of Laura's death and Miles's response to it, offering frank descriptions of the effects of certain drugs, the ugly aftermath of suicide and the devastating effects of grief. Some may find Miles's painful soul-searching too agonizing to read. Others will recognize it for what it is: one of the few painfully true accounts of what it means to grieve the loss of one's closest, most promising friend and ally. "I dread waking up to that light. Each day it reminds me that Laura is gone, and the world I know is immediately plunged into darkness. It's like the day didn't even have a chance. The sun got to me first."

At turns fanciful and grittily real, Cohn's language effectively illustrates both Miles's inner world and her mundane reality. Narrated in Miles's world-weary voice, the brutally honest story is a testament to the writing talents Miles herself disputes that she possesses. Readers will certainly empathize with this prickly but vulnerable protagonist as she struggles to write for herself the happy --- or at least hopeful --- ending she and Laura had always tried to imagine.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on March 4, 2008

You Know Where to Find Me
by Rachel Cohn

  • Publication Date: February 24, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0689878605
  • ISBN-13: 9780689878602