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You Should Have Known

March 2014

It’s often said that the clues as to whether a relationship will work or not are known in the early days. The quirky “oh-so-charming” trait in a future mate that is endearing at the start of a relationship may harbor clues of something that will be annoying or devastating later. How many times do we say, “Did she/he not see it?”

In YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN by Jean Hanff Korelitz, Grace Reinhart Sachs is a therapist who feels she knows all about relationships and why they fail, and has written a book of her own: You Should Have Known: Why Women Fail to Hear What the Men in Their Lives Are Telling Them. Just as she is prepping for a round of pre-release media for the book, she learns that her own marriage is not what it seems. What then is Grace to do? This is the Grace who has grown up in New York and is still living in the apartment that her parents once owned and whose son attends the same tony private school that she once did. As the title of Janet Maslin’s New York Times review of YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN says so well, “Above It All Until Her World Turns Upside Down.”

This to me was a complete page-turner. It has the right dash of an inside look at New York upper-crust elitism layered in with a mystery and then ramped up with an emotional storyline of a woman becoming undone and needing to remake her world into something she can feel good about. It has great pacing, and Jean nails the characters so well. While I did not find Grace likable, I still was rooting for her, which requires a knack on the part of a writer. This will be great for book group discussions, though it will be tough for club members not to wander off with their own “did she not see it?” stories. Maybe group discussion should allow time for these at the end of their meetings. Because, as we know reading this book, everyone loves to say later, “Did she not know?” 

You Should Have Known
by Jean Hanff Korelitz