“This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go. You’re just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can’t be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place? There had to be signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them?” – Front Flap of YOU
Kyle Chase is the perfect example of so many of the kids you’ve seen or heard about in school systems who have sort of slipped through the cracks somewhere along the line. Between middle school and high school Kyle made some poor choices that landed him at the school for underachievers, Midlands High School, instead of Odyssey High School. He knows the mistakes he’s made, but can’t begin to fathom how to change them: the grades, the deadbeat friends, most of all his relationship with his parents. YOU spends a large portion of the story lost in Kyle’s anxiety over his wanting to change, and being perfectly apathetic to everything. Then there’s the issue of Kyle’s uncontrollable anger in the midst of all his other roller coaster-esque emotions. As Kyle puts it, “Life would be so much easier if they just left you alone, let you do what you wanted. You wouldn’t’ cause them any grief, you’d take care of yourself make your own food and get yourself where you needed to go.” That statement right there reminded me so much of how I thought towards my own parents, adults, authority figures, etc. at one point during my teenage life, so in that regard, I think Benoit did a really great job of connecting with his inner teenager. And why shouldn’t he have, having been a former high school teacher dealing with teens day in and day out?
Getting back to the story, things for Kyle continue in the above manner until he meets the new kid, smooth-talking confident Zack McDade. For all the weirdness that is Zack, Kyle can’t help but notice that Zack seems to have his life together. And maybe that’s why Kyle begins to hang out with Zack, and things start to pick up in Kyle’s life. But maybe that was Kyle’s biggest mistake. YOU is a fast-paced read that ends where it starts, with a shocking conclusion. It was definitely an emotional read for me, that had me switching between anger at Kyle’s attitude and choices, sympathy in his desire to change all that, pissed off at the character of Zack, and horrified at what happens at the end. If you want a story that will take no time to read, and maybe give you a little inside look at that kid you kind of know at school who has no aspirations and seems to purposely screw things up for himself (but you know is a good kid), check out YOU by Charles Benoit.