Initial reaction: Very strong story following the protagonist Katie as it tracks her and her family’s journey to help her talented, athletic daughter reach Olympic athlete status. But in the backdrop of a tragic death, layers upon layers of darkness, deception and secrets hover around their family, which steadily build throughout the story to a nicely established climax. I was glued to the audiobook from the beginning to the end.
It’s hard to put words to the experience that was Megan Abbott’s “You Will Know Me” – it’s a steady burn that builds in magnitude as the story moves forward, but then those layers stack upon layers enough to send the whole tower of building blocks crashing down. You don’t always know how or when it’s going to crash, but you know it’s coming and you’re just waiting for it to happen. I’ll admit that’s how I find myself caught in all of her works to some degree – this book being no different and quite satisfying to watch unfold. It’s entirely appropriate for the forthcoming Olympic season, given that it focuses on the plight of parents trying to build upon their daughter’s dreams of becoming a star athlete. But “You Will Know Me” is a much darker and twisted tale of power struggles, hidden agendas, and clashes that occur beneath the surface until they bubble up and over – and it all feels very vivid and genuine.
Katie, Devon’s mother, is the primary character we follow through this narrative, and we get an eye towards her life, her husband, Eric, and her two children Devon and Drew. Devon is an elite athlete and Olympic hopeful around whom Katie and Eric build so much of their lives around, even to the point of where their son takes more of a sideline role throughout their pursuits. But following the unexpected death of someone close to the aspiring athletes around which Devon trains and excels, everything descends to heck and back, showing that not all is well in Katie’s household – whether delving into the past following a brutal accident involving Katie, to her dashed dreams in some modes, to the undeniable change in behavior in Devon and the secrets that seem to keep piling up as Katie tries to get to the bottom of things. It’s very much a novel where the journey has more satisfying weights than the wrap up of the overarching myster – the examination of past and present repercussions coming to the surface as Katie examines her relationships with her husband, daughter, son, their connections (or lack thereof) to the unexpected death, their mounting secrets, and certainly the power plays that occur both on the floor of competition and interpersonal dealings with others who have stakes in the success of the young women competing.
The eye to the athleticism and competition, the conflicts of maturing young women, the petty politics and self-interest served by the parents of the young women who compete in the same circles as Devon was given a careful, exploratory and invested eye. I couldn’t look away for much of this narrative, and I really enjoyed it for what it offered, especially given in the performance of the audiobook version. The only issue for me was that I somewhat called the ending a bit before it actually happened, which is why I say this book is more about the journey than the actual wrap of the overarching mystery, but it nonetheless feels emotional and well-noted for the weight it has. And it’s the kind of narrative that keeps me coming back for more of Abbott’s work.
Overall score: 4/5 stars.