You Will Know Me
In 2015, Megan Abbott’s THE FEVER won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Hardcover Novel. She now has the stiff challenge of repeating her success with her latest entry, YOU WILL KNOW ME.
For years, you have heard the scandalous stories involving high school sports and the lengths to which some parents will go to ensure that their child is successful. That obsession is depicted and taken to deadly new heights in YOU WILL KNOW ME. Here, the sport in question is high school girls gymnastics, and the primary focus is Devon, the alleged prodigy daughter of Katie and Eric Knox.
Pretty much everyone went to school with someone who was so athletically gifted that they made it all look easy. This was the case with Devon, by far the most talented gymnast in her school. She was so good, in fact, that her folks, coach, and other rich and influential parents are jumping on the Devon bandwagon. This talented young girl was clearly on her way to the Olympics, and Abbott even throws in quotes from former Olympic great Nadia Comaneci to reinforce this idea.
"YOU WILL KNOW ME is a true suburban nightmare that Megan Abbott strips away piece by piece before letting you in on what is actually going on."
Everything seems to be going as planned until a young man named Ryan Beck comes into everyone's lives. He is part of the construction crew working on the gym and athletic area at the high school. His laugh, smile and personality are immediately engaging --- a fact that is not lost on the teen girls on the gymnastics team or their mothers. He is rumored to be dating Hailey, who is not only on the team but is also the coach's niece.
Tragedy soon strikes the town and high school when Ryan is struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident. Speculation begins to fly, especially towards Hailey, who was rumored to be on the outs with Ryan. Katie seems as devastated as her daughter and has an uncomfortable moment at the home of Ryan's mother, Helen, after the funeral. When a witness comes forward to point a finger towards Hailey, everyone is shocked but not completely surprised. However, this being a psychological thriller penned by a masterful author, readers will realize that the simplest explanation may not necessarily be the correct one.
Devon starts getting picked on by various bullies or jealous parties at school. She tells her parents that Hailey, in particular, has been mean to her and harassed her via social media as well as through defamatory pictures. Katie and Eric consider legal action, but do not want to do anything that distracts Devon from her gymnastics and preparing for the Elite Qualifiers tournament. They recognize that Devon being the subject of envy in others is something they must live with.
Abbott does a nice job of not letting the reader inside Devon's head as most of the novel features her mother. We find out more about Devon when Katie comes across an essay she wrote entitled “My Dream.” It is here where Katie comes to realizes what drives her ultra-competitive daughter and to what lengths she is willing to go in order to fulfill her dream. This makes Katie call to mind something that Helen said to her when she pondered how she has no idea what is going on in her kid's head and sometimes feels she is living with an alien. All Katie knows is that when you have an extraordinary child, you will do anything for her.
YOU WILL KNOW ME is a true suburban nightmare that Megan Abbott strips away piece by piece before letting you in on what is actually going on. Is it good enough to win next year's International Thriller Writers Award? We'll just have to wait and see.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 29, 2016