Review: YOU WILL KNOW ME by Megan Abbott

I feel like more often than not I need to apologise to my book club when it’s my turn to pick our monthly read. Though maybe I will be the only one of us who found YOU WILL KNOW ME more of a slog than anything labelled thriller ought to be. Maybe my club mates will have found the things I missed…the things that have garnered the book its many accolades and glowing reviews.

YOU WILL KNOW ME is the story of the Knox family. Though narrated by mum Katie the story – indeed the Knox family itself – revolves entirely around daughter Devon. She of the extraordinary gymnastic talent. A potential Olympian no less. When a young man who is connected to the community that has built up around Devon and her dreams is killed in a hit and run incident there’s a lot more worry about how the situation might affect Devon’s chances of securing the next rung on the ladder to Olympic stardom than genuine concern about Ryan’s death. Which is, I guess, the point.

My lack of connection to this book could be due to the fact I don’t know or care anything about competitive gymnastics. Except that I can be completely consumed by art which draws me into a world I know nothing and care even less about. Dick Francis has made me cry about horses more than once and Connie Britton (and friends) had me binge-watching a TV show about American football when I don’t even watch the local kind as a sport. But I was not drawn into the gymnastics world depicted by this book because that depiction felt pretty superficial. Though perhaps that was the point after all.

As a novel of suspense the book also failed me. There really wasn’t any. At all. Despite a lot of portentous statements (a pet peeve). “The incident” happens more than a third of the way into the book which of itself is not necessarily a bad thing but neither the lead up nor the subsequent action offer much in the way of drama. The early stuff is either dull as dishwater or scene-setting “how psychopaths can be formed in suburbia” material and I found the resolution drawn-out and completely predictable. Maybe I’ve read too many of these things.

The book’s characters didn’t do much for me either. Katie Knox is really the only one who I felt was drawn with any depth to her and even that was only a relative thing. Maybe teenage girls who have spent their entire lives at the centre of their universe can’t have any depth to them. But I found the minor characters – including Devon’s dad Eric, her coach, the parents of her fellow gymnasts and the girlfriend of the man whose inconvenient death causes a blip in Devon’s life – shallow and unengaging too. Katie’s story and her choices are, ultimately, pretty gobsmacking and seem deserving of more consideration but I feel like the author allowed the potential of this genuinely original tale to get lost amidst the teen angst and parental bitchiness.

Or maybe I just missed whatever it is that everyone else sees here. I found YOU WILL ALWAYS KNOW ME a disappointment but I am definitely in the minority.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Narrator Lauren Fortgang
Publisher Hachette Audio[2016]
Length 9 hours 11 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Book Series standalone
Source of review copy I bought it

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2 Responses to Review: YOU WILL KNOW ME by Megan Abbott

  1. Rebecca says:

    I agree on the not-great-as-a-thriller take because the plot didn’t really surprise me. It’s not my favorite Abbott, who is good at building dread usually.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    I’m sorry to hear that this one didn’t really do it for you, Bernadette. I understand, though, what you mean about not being drawn into the story or the characters. Not much you can do, really when that happens.

    Liked by 1 person

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