Title: I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin
*Review copy received from Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review*
Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)
We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.
So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?
I hate everyone but you is a book I received and had serious cover love. I adore the look of the book but the story within whilst being somewhat unique fell rather flat for me.
Firstly I want to start this review by mentioning that this book could be triggering for some people, it talks about Self Harm, Drug Use, OCD, Anxiety and there is a rape joke. Keep reading I get to that.
I Hate Everyone But You is written by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, you may be familiar with them as they previously worked for BuzzFeed and they now have their own YouTube channel. Personally I have never watched their YouTube videos but I have seen fans of this book and their channel mention that the characters within the book encompass Allison and Gaby personally. Of course having not watched their videos I cannot comment on that aspect.
The book itself is a unique format and it is told via a series of Texts and Emails between the two girls as they embark on their first months of college. Having been best friends for the majority of their lives, they are now separated and experiencing two different courses at two different colleges therefore the book deals with taking on new life experiences. The format of the book is very easy to get into and to digest, it’s something I liked as it stands out uniquely against other books. I haven’t read a book wholly focused on the dialogue being from text messages and emails.
In terms of characters the book features 2 own voices, Ava and Gen. Ava herself is a character who has Mental Illness representation and her character deals with Anxiety and OCD. Gen herself represents LGBTQ+. Between the two characters they really touch upon a lot of diversity which is great to see. As characters they also touch upon prejudice towards LGBTQ+ communities and also Transphobia.
Whilst I have to applaud this book for its diversity and the issues it dealt with, a portion of the book left me feeling somewhat angry. For example the book features Gen and Ava as they start college, they take two different routes with how they experience the first months, Gen herself went a way of being more outgoing, trying new things but these new things were drugs. A lot of the first moments of the book featured heavy drug references, of course it happens, people try drugs. But there was constant talk of meth, weed or trying cocaine for the first 20/30 pages at least, the comments were constantly there and for me that didn’t really work. The weed references I would have been fine with, it’s becoming legal in a lot of places in America now, it is still illegal here in the UK but I know a lot of people who have tried weed. The numerous references to Meth and Cocaine were just too much for me.
I’ve read reviews where people found the book hilarious, I didn’t really find it funny but we all have different senses of humour. Another moment I wasn’t a fan of was the following quote;
‘the party had a jungle theme and probably at least one case of date rape. (I’m joking. I hope)
I literally cringed when I saw this, is it meant to be funny? Are we joking about date rape now or trying to ]ighten up the idea on the fact it happens? Maybe I am too serious a person but a joke like this on date rape is a big no for me and for me it plays into rape culture. Rape jokes aren’t funny, joking that a party probably has at least one case of date rape is not funny in any way. How it even made it into the book I don’t know.
Let’s carry on talking about the characters for a little bit longer, Gen was a character who really frustrated me. There were moments she talked about how Ava was being manipulated but for me she was just as manipulating as the character she was referring to. Ava and Gen have been best friends for years, when Gen goes to college she experiments with her sexuality more than she did in High School, Ava wasn’t aware of her previous ‘relationships’ with girls or her bi-sexuality in High School so you can imagine she is a little surprised in the sense of she didn’t know. These are meant to be bestfriends so here she was finding out something new that her bestfriend had kept hidden from her?
Ava is a character who is rather in the dark about LGBTQ+ and questions Gen regarding her sleeping with her female tutor and other moments which Gen often finds offensive and would ignore her or go off on her. Ava was misguided in a-lot of her comments but you can sense that they came from a place of miss understanding, she just simply wished to have it explained to her but Gen didn’t speak to her friend and explain or try to educate her. She ignored her or was rude to her just expecting her to know, yes in this day and age we all pretty much know about LGBTQ+ but personally if I hadn’t told my bestfriend any of my experiences with Bi-sexuality or anything then I wouldn’t ignore them for questioning me. I would try to talk it out with them, I wouldn’t try to manipulate them into apologizing for asking me questions.
Ava is a character who represents Mental Illness, as previously mentioned she suffers from OCD and Anxiety, she has also had experience with Self Harm and goes to therapy. Now the Self Harm element is one which makes me not a fan of Gen even more. I think it is important to mention this element in my review. You know I don’t like to reveal spoilers or anything but it is potentially triggering. Ava mentions how she scratches her stomach, to release her anger/anxiety and mentions how ‘no razor’s were involved.’ Gen goes and tells her parents which made me angry. Yes she is trying to protect her, she obviously has self harmed in the past to a very serious degree but rather than truly speaking to Ava about it she tells her parents who put Ava into an even bigger anxiety bubble. Ava then has to try to convince her parents into letting her stay in her dorm at college. Ava told Gen as a bestfriend, in confidence and whilst I understand the idea of Gen’s behaviour coming from a place of protection making sure her parents know, it felt like Gen was pushing it onto her parents. Like you deal with it instead, not me. Personally I have thought about self harm before and have self harmed in the past. If I told my best-friend something then them telling my parents would set off my anxiety to an even bigger level, it would make me scared to tell them anything. She scratched her stomach instead of using razors which was a big step for her, she stopped herself from reaching for something bigger. Yes parents need to know especially if it can be life threatening but there are times when it can make it even worse. Everybody will think about this differently, when I put it onto my own mental health experience it just didn’t sit right for me and felt like she was simply pushing it onto Ava’s parents.
So what do I want to rate this book? It’s going to have to be 2 stars, whilst there are aspects of the book I liked such as how much diversity it features and I am so glad it features two own voices and deals with so many important LGBTQ+ Issues. It just fell flat for me in the way it dealt with some of the issues and the date rape joke wasn’t something I appreciated at all. It’s an easy read and I think fans of the YouTube channel might love it more because they’ll know the humor and the backstory of the writers themselves and may be able to draw comparisons to the characters in the book.
Let me know your thoughts below. Have you read this book? Are you fan of Gaby and Allison?