“You Will Know Me” by Megan Abbott

You Will Know MeThe crime fiction genre known as “domestic suspense” has been described as playing on “the universal fear that we might not know those closest to us as well as we think” (Stephanie Merritt, The Guardian). When You Will Know Me opens, Katie Knox’s family presents a united front: they are all working toward a single goal, to help teenage daughter Devon achieve her dream of being a world-class gymnast. Then a suspicious death changes everything.

Katie’s husband, Eric, is Devon’s biggest cheerleader, willing to do whatever it takes to provide her with everything she needs, from the best coaching to the sparkliest uniforms. Devon herself is relentless, pressuring herself to get the best grades as well as the top scores at competitions. Little brother Drew is the family’s “little stalwart,” but recently, he’s been plagued by strange dreams that seem almost like visions, and Katie realizes, “There was so much going on in his head that she hadn’t known before.”

The hit-and-run death of a much-loved young man who was dating Devon’s coach’s niece roils the close-knit, sometimes fractious gymnastics community. (Abbott never tells us in which city or state her story is set—there were times when I would have preferred a little more sense of place, but there is something to be said for making it Any Suburb, U.S.A.) Katie begins to suspect that the people closest to her know more than they’re letting on. But everyone’s first priority, as ever, is to keep Devon from getting distracted. Not even a crime committed in their midst can be allowed to stop her from focusing on her rise to the top of her sport; the girl’s athletic achievements lift up the gym where she practices, as every parent hopes a little of her magic will rub off on their own children.

It’s hard not to read this book, which is written in the third person but primarily shows us the world through Katie’s eyes, without wondering what decisions you’d make if you were in Katie’s shoes. How far would you go, how much would you spend, what sacrifices would you make to give your loved one a shot at Olympic gold? After reading You Will Know Me, you’ll never look at those eerily self-possessed teenage athletes, from gymnasts to ice skaters to tennis players, in the same way again.

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