Thursday, July 07, 2016

You Will Know Me -- Megan Abbott

You Will Know Me is being described by some reviewers as a mystery novel or a crime novel, but to me it's not really a genre novel.  It's a novel that does have a crime in it, and it's about the effects of that crime on a number of people, but it's more (to me) a novel about how far people will go to nurture a child with a special talent, someone who has the ability to be a champion, in this case a gymnastics champ.  What do we do to those people?  What do we do to ourselves when we give up nearly everything to see that they go all the way to the top?  How far will we go?  And who are we really doing things for, anyway, ourselves or the child?

Katie and Chuck Knox have that special child, Devon, who has the ability and the will to go all the way.  The will matters almost as much as the ability, and Devon is known as "Ice Eyes" to others in her gym group, all of whom know they'll never be as good as she is.  When a young man named Ryan, who works in the gym, is killed in a hit-and-run accident, things start to fall apart, and Katie's only interest is in holding them together for her daughter (and for herself).  She'll do anything to protect her family, she tells herself and others.  We discover that she's not the only one.  Even Drew, Devon's younger brother, is powerfully affected by the aspirations of his sister.

The suspense here derives more from the tension among the characters than from the mystery itself, and things do get very tense.  It's powerful stuff, and you might never watch videos of Simone Biles with quite the same joy in performance again.


Deb said...

Looks like Megan has another winner on her hands. We once knew a couple like the parents in this book: they had a very promising basketball player son. Sacrifice and obsessiveness about his training schedule were ongoing to the exclusion of all else, including a social life or the needs of their other children. Then he had a career-ending (before he even had a career) injury. A decade later their main topic of conversation was what their son could have accomplished. They could never let it go.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It's my favorite. But so far each one is my favorite. I am Katie Knox, I fear.