In her latest book, You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott paints an eerie portrait of a family weighed down by desire. Katie, wife and mother of two, narrates the story. Her youngest, Drew, is an intelligent and imaginative boy, who is often shadowed by the shining star of the family. Devon is Drew's older sister and the sun that the rest of the family orbits. A talented gymnast, Devon receives unparalleled attention from both of her parents.
Devon and Katie are a regular fixture at Belstars Gym. The younger gymnasts admire Devon, and the mothers all want to know exactly what Katie and her husband, Eric, did to raise such a motivated and talented gymnast. Devon is on track to the Olympic team and the dream consumes her and her family’s life. Until an unexpected death rocks the gym and all its members.
Ryan, another constant presence at the gym, is killed in a hit and run. Everyone at the gym finds the loss tough, particularly the niece of Coach T. and Ryan’s girlfriend, Hailey. Amidst her grief, Hailey begins to target Devon; is it out of jealousy at being a failed gymnast or something more?
As little mouths begin to gossip and rumours start to swirl, Katie struggles with the gymnasium’s politics, her son’s unfortunate illness, and Eric’s unwavering and distancing devotion to Devon’s success. In the wake of Ryan’s death secrets begin to rear their ugly head, and Katie begins to doubt her trust in those around her.
Abbott’s flowing prose describes everyday elements in an unnerving way, creating a sense of unease that permeates the novel. She writes women’s bodies uniquely; through a detached female gaze. It works very well in this setting, making it clear just where the young hopeful women stand in the harsh world of elite athletic competition.
The little gymnast’s bodies are muscled machines, property of every person pumping money into the gym and into the girls’ future. If Devon doesn’t succeed after the mystery and madness following Ryan’s death, then what has been the point of it all?
Abbott’s reliance on similes, unfortunately, occasionally pulled me from the story. Given the point-of-view, however, the overuse of similes and repetition could be reflective of the narrator more so than Abbott’s writing. Otherwise, her writing works very well, drawing the reader deep into Katie’s mind. As her life and thoughts begin to unravel, Abbott’s writing races up to match. Long-running sentences add to the atmosphere rather than detract, quickening the pace to the final reveal.
By the end of You Will Know Me, you’ll be questioning how well you know the minds of those closest to you and just how far you might go to get what you really want.
Although there are questions surrounding Ryan’s death, it isn’t that mystery which drives the novel. If you’re looking for a strong crime mystery or who-dun-it, this one won't fill the void. The real mystery is who is Devon? I was disappointed that I finished the novel feeling as though I still didn’t really know the answer. Devon didn't feel like a fully formed character, but perhaps that’s the point – she is a teenager after all.
Those elements are what made this a 3-star book for me; repetition, reliance on similies, and a lack of real mystery. Otherwise, the plot was engaging, the writing was compelling, and the setting provided interest. If you enjoy any of these elements, then You Will Know Me might be one to add to your reading list.
Why Read This Book?
- Female author
- Strong themes
- Athletic setting
You Will Know Me
Katie and Eric's daughter, Devon Knox, is a gymnastic prodigy. Their lives revolve around Devon; her schooling, training, and competing, until a shocking death rocks the small community. As ...