Megan Abbott has a fan in me.
You Will Know Me is a portrait of a family at the precipice of both greatness and crisis.
On the greatness front: Their eldest daughter, Devon, is a gymnastics phenom. In her childhood, she lost a toe in a freak accident. Whether it was that accident or her own dedicated work ethic, Devon has long proven herself to be a rare talent in her field, poised for a place in the Olympics.
On the crisis front: the family is imploding. Among the team, there’s vicious in-fighting. It can’t be easy on the teammates to be living in Devon’s talented shadow. And there’s a mystery afoot. Someone is dead. Whodunnit?
You Will Know Me centers around Devon’s mother, Katie. The mother who runs 100 different directions at once, but still manages to hold it all together. Simultaneously, she’s a mother who is about to lose it. In the face of this mystery, she must doubt everyone, even her own family. It’s a strange dichotomy, following the urge to protect one’s family while suspecting them of the worst at the same time.
There are quite a few “Why’d she do this?” or “Why didn’t she do that?” moments in the book. It’s easy to criticize Katie’s moves and motivations from the protection of being an outsider. It seems like there are a lot of missed opportunities to take the right path.
But then I thought about where my own limits would be for my own kids. Is there anything I wouldn’t do for my boys?
Well, yes. Yes, there is, of course, a line past which no one shall cross. There’s a point I’d say, “To hell with that! Deal with your own mess, bub!”
But where is that line?
I can’t say I know for sure. But it’s probably further than I’d expect, as it is for the main character in the book.
The cringe-worthiness and stress of this book is enough to take it down to a four-star rating. But the ruthlessness and thought-provoking themes are enough to bring it up to four stars.
One thing worth noting, Megan Abbott writes teens and the fraught social mores of that group EXCEPTIONALLY well. Note her work in her other books, Dare Me and The Fever. Abbott (and the movie director Sofia Coppola, for that matter) seem to have a special, teen-whisperer-esque insight into the secret language, social classes, and pecking order of female teen cliques.
Through these pages, we get an insider look into a secret, poignant, and dangerous society. One in which teens deal with grown-up problems with a still childlike mentality.