Book review: ‘I Hate Everyone But You’
As a young adult, I tended to read adult books As an adult, I started to pick up young adult books. Of the favorite YA authors I’ve amassed — Maggie Stiefvater, Markus Zuzak, Lucy Christoper — Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin snuck in with an unconventional novel on the library shelves with “I Hate Everyone But You.”
Today’s friendships — even adult ones — are often tech-based. It’s a fast-paced, career and family-packed life. Most of us stay in contact with those we love, as well as simply keep up with our lives, through a smartphone. Many of my friendships have been maintained across the miles — and across the years — by such means as texting and emails.
“I Hate Everyone But You” is more than a reflection of a friendship surviving childhood and going into adulthood, it’s laugh out loud funny, profound, heartfelt and memorable. The novel itself captures everything from the pain and excitement and utter fear on the first terrifying day of college and living on your own for the first time, often without familiar faces like friends or family or even a city.
This contemporary, self-discovery, coming-of-age novel is about two friends who have rather opposite personalities, separated by states as they go to opposite shores to attend college. Ava and Gen are best friends who embody the opposite attracts metaphor. Gen is outgoing, fearless and says what is on her mind. Ava is prone to sadness, self-criticism and shyness. Gen pulls Ava from her perfectionist ways, and Ava takes Gen from her self-sabotage ways.
In the novel, Ava joins a sorority because she feels that is what she should do. However, it encroaches on her already severe social anxiety and class stress. Gen studies journalism and attempts to make waves as soon as she hits the school paper.
The entire book is written via texts and emails between the two. While it’s about teenagers, its topics are mainstream throughout life: Mental health issues, relationships, friendships, work, alcohol and drug use and family struggles. The messages are often light and funny, others tackle heavy topics and offer a compelling look into two friends who get each other more than anyone else does — or ever will.
Through Dunn and Raskin’s clever text and email exchanges, the reader goes on day to day life with Ava and Gen, deep inside their friendship that was forged many years before. It’s last message is this: The power of true friendship survives.
“Everyone always talks about the effort you have to put into a romantic relationship or a marriage, but why would a friendship be any different? You are always going to be more important to me than some random boy I marry. (At least until the silver wedding anniversary.)”