I got an eARC copy of this book from NetGalley ahead of the book’s release in exchange for an honest review.
Having read ‘Undone’ a few years ago (a book that’s had a pretty secure spot as one of my favourite books of all time), I knew that Cat Clarke was an author to keep an eye out for, and that’s a huge part of the reason why I requested this book. I enjoy how she doesn’t make a massive deal of LGBT+ representation and includes it casually, unlike many other YA authors. She also throws a lot of other major contemporary issues into her stories in a way that is neither romanticised or sugar-coated.
The other reason was the description. On the same night Evan’s mother marries the local radio DJ, her new step-brother Lewis becomes the only survivor of a horrific car crash, found unconscious and terribly injured. The media instantly points the blame at stoner, loner Lewis. Everyone thinks the crash was drugs-related, but Evan and her journalist father aren’t buying it, so they decide to find out what really happened that night.
‘We Are Young’ is not a light book. The plot is heavily centred around death, a car accident, suicide, and mental health, along with scenes of abusive family relationships and a discussion of pressures on modern teenagers. And the characters are teenagers that actually behave like teenagers do, not shying away from the larger issues in the story (death, suicide, mental health) or the smaller ones, like drinking, drugs, and sexuality.
The only thing I disliked about this book – and it’s an extremely small thing – is that the opening chapter features a character called Vince witnessing and discovering the car accident. But then we never see him again. And I’m just wondering how he’s coping after seeing three dead teenagers and a living one with half his arm ripped off.
But, other than that, this book is close to flawless.
As well as the bad parts, ‘We Are Young’ is a book about finding support through the tough times and focusing on relationships that matter. The book ends with the contact information for many organisations if you need help or advice.