You Will Know Me

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Oct 2017

Member Reviews

I'm just going to say it: Megan Abbott is one of my favourite authors. I've read three of her books and I've loved three of her books. I get it - her writing isn't for everyone; but it's for me. Holy shit, is it for me.

It's hard to explain. Abbott writes about quiet people politics and the small details that all add up to something bigger. Suspense hums beneath the surface, turning the most mundane events into something darker, something more meaningful. She narrates real life and still keeps you on the edge of your seat.

You Will Know Me is a murder mystery, and yet it is mostly about a family that revolves around its anchor - a gymnastics prodigy called Devon. Like all my favourite mystery/thriller writers (Tana French, Gillian Flynn, etc.), Abbott makes her stories about so much more than the mystery. If you guess the truth - as you might here - it doesn't matter. It's about the whys, the hows, the intricate details and characterization. I think the telltale sign of a really good thriller is when the "whodunnit" can be spoiled and the book is still worth reading.

  "That’s what parenthood was about, wasn’t it? Slowly understanding your child less and less until she wasn’t yours anymore but herself."

The Knox family are at the centre of this tale. There's Katie - a mother overwhelmed by her changing daughter; Eric - a father obsessed with helping his daughter achieve her dreams; Drew - an oft-neglected boy who notices more than anyone realizes; and Devon herself - a teenage girl caught up in the intense, competitive world of elite gymnasts.

Into their world comes a death - a death that could very well be a murder. It shakes their tight-knit community and brings many secrets to the surface. As everything unravels, it becomes clear that the Knox family might not know each other that well at all.

You Will Know Me is an adult book about a murder, but once again Abbott demonstrates where she really shines: in portraying that nasty, psychotic little world of teenage girls. How hard it is, how much it hurts, how cruel they are to one another. It's just real life, after all, but the writing simmers with a barely-suppressed mania.

Low self-esteem, desire, jealousy, sex, confusion... add some top-level ambition to the teenage girl pot and it's easy to see how this normal part of life can turn dark in an instant. Abbott captures it perfectly and convincingly, writing beautiful, simple little moments, filled with meaning:

    "He’d never woken up, and the only sound now was his breathing, hoarse and ragged. For a second she thought she saw his lashes lift, the white of one eye looking at her, but she was wrong."

It is not what it’s about, but how the story is told. In fact, the more I read, the more I come to think that’s always the case. Writing pretty words into sentences is something that can be learned in a writing class, but being a good storyteller, like natural charisma, is something you simply have a knack for, or you don’t.

And, for me, Megan Abbott is one of the best.
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