Let’s face it–sometimes a book just doesn’t grab you–and you wonder what inspired you to read it in the first place. I’m glad I didn’t give up on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s psychological novel, You Should Have Known. But there were several times that I nearly did. It was something about the description that hooked me. I was under the impression that it is a thriller. It might, in a way, be a mystery, but ultimately, I classify it as a story about discovery–about oneself, the people around you, and the way you see the past, present, and future. When you know at least some of these things, how do you respond? Life isn’t always neat, tidy, and able to be wrapped up in box with a pretty bow.
As the story opens, marriage counselor Grace Reinhart Sachs has just written a self-help book called You Should Have Known, which a magazine writer is interviewing her about. At the same time, Grace is also preparing for a book tour and continuing to see clients. Her book’s thesis is that there is always a pivotal event in a relationship that warns a woman not to continue seeing someone, even though he might “look good on paper.” She asserts that there are always clues, and that women should follow their instincts before becoming serious about a man. Her book is a manifesto on how to make good choices in relationships. To her interviewers, readers, and sometimes her clients, her words come across as judgmental, cold, and blaming.
The novel itself is divided into three sections: Before, During, and After. The author gets into Grace’s head a lot, and there’s a lot of description surrounding the tony life she leads. Even though she is happily married to her husband Jonathan, a well-known pediatric cancer specialist, she doesn’t seem to like her superficial life, and may even be bored by it. But she does love Henry, 12, very much–her only child.
Honestly, the first section drags too much. But stick with it. The point of the story becomes much clearer when the mother of a fourth grader at Henry’s private school is found murdered. Jonathan Sachs is accused of the crime. Bewildered, Grace wonders what has happened to her husband and why she can’t find him, but can’t process the truth. Her world swiftly turns upside sown. Read on to see how everything turns out.
I like Korelitz’s writing style, and I definitely would read her work again. She is also the author of Admission, which was made into a movie starring Tina Fey. Turns out that it’s on my eReader, so I’ll be enjoying it soon.