I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
on July 26th 2016
Genres: Adult, Thriller
Reading Challenges: 2016 50 Book Challenge
Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate.
From a writer with "exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl," (Janet Maslin) You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.
2016 has been a year of thrillers, but it’s ALSO been the year of the Olympic Summer Games! If you’re like me, you end up glued to the TV for some quality time watching the good ole women’s gymnastics competition. So when I saw that this book was a mystery/thriller about a competitive gymnast, I was all like, “GIMME!”
So add gymnastics books right in there with my bizarre love of ballet novels, because I was instantly hooked on You Will Know Me. There’s just something about girls being exceptionally driven and passionate and talented in something so precise that makes them interesting character studies. These types of novels focus on the delicate balance the girls strive to walk between sweet & polite (like society wants them to be) and cut throat bullies. Or, in the case of this novel, maybe even something more sinister.
You Will Know Me is told from the point of view of Katie Knox, the hyper-dedicated mom of Olympic gymnastic hopeful Devon Knox. Against the backdrop of Devon’s attempt to make Senior Elite status at the Elite qualifiers, someone close to the BelStars gym community ends up dead…and it appear some foul play may have been involved. As Devon’s mom, Katie has the perfect narrative vantage point for coming to understand a variety of details that emerge in the days following the tragic accident. It seems that everyone may have something to hide.
The most fascinating aspect of this novel was not the thriller element or the mystery, or even the gymnastics backdrop, but instead the character studies at the heart of story. As a feminist reader, I love reading complicated female characters with complex motivations, and this book had several to satisfy that. In particular, Devon was a fascinating character to read through her mother’s eyes. We never really see Devon or learn what’s going on inside of her head, but most of this tight-knit gymnastic world revolves around this tiny teenage girl. Watching Katie’s struggle to understand her daughter and constant obsession with her daughter’s changing body added layers to this story that showed Megan Abbott’s aptitude for writing interesting, realistic characters.
That being said, while this novel was a gripping read and I highly recommend it, it fell short of “best of the best” for me for two reasons: the thrill and the ending. My thoughts on the thrill are a little nitpicky — the story was not exactly what was advertised. In the post-Gone Girl world, this novel packaged itself up like Gone Girl when it’s really more like a Jodi Picoult novel. Yes, it’s twisty and filled with secrets but not quite on the back-stabby, Dance Mom-y level that the blurb implies when it states this is, “a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.” Like, yes…it is about desire, jealousy, and ambition, but it a much quieter and slow-boil kind of way. Similarly, the ending does not pack any major punches and felt like it was lacking in emotional impact, even though I believe the ending was supposed to be an “OH MY GOSH” moment. Maybe I’ve just read too many thrillers?
FINAL GRADE: B
If you are looking for a book about flawed people doing flawed things while also performing gymnastics, this is for you! I highly recommend the novel to fans of Jodi Picoult or anyone looking for adult novels that read like YA. And if you are in interested in reading this books because you are obsessed with gymnastics, I highly recommend you read Abbott’s article “Why Are We So Obsessed With Gymnastics?” to get a taste of the themes Abbott explores in the novel.