Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

2:06 PM

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

“She hadn't learned, no one had taught her ... that the things you want, you never get them. And if you do, they're not what you thought they'd be. But you'd still do anything to keep them. Because you'd wanted them for so long.”

I'm going to start with one thing first--Megan Abbott is one of my favourite writers. No, not one. She is probably, actually, #1. There's just something about Abbott's prose that takes my breath away and causes me to turn; highlight, think and repeat. From The Fever and The End of Everything all the way back to Dare Me, I find myself stunned at the amount Abbott makes you feel in one short novel.

While I enjoyed You Will Know Me a lot, I didn't like it as much as I had assumed I would. The better half of the book--the final 75%--kept me in place, a feeling of dread and something I couldn't quite understand. That's when you know that Megan Abbott has something up her sleeve. Her prose is one of those rarities in fiction that makes your skin crawl in fear and intimacy.

You know these characters like you know a poet--in glimpses, not completely.

Some moments feel undeniably reliable and suspenseful whereas most trick you into some sense of comfort. What I love most about her writing, is that the more you unravel the more you feel that way. It's an odd mix of feeling like you've got it figured out while simultaneously having no clue. While I figured the twist in You Will Know Me earlier on it doesn't take away the experience of finding out what happened and where it leaves the narration. It's chilling. It's one last kick in the jaw. It's Megan Abbott at her core.

That being said, much like all of the releases I have read by Megan Abbott there is the dark sense of reality just lingering at the back your mind. It's one of the best things about psychological thrillers. You have this huge mystery at the center of things but what you unravel most is the secrets of one community, or family, or character, until you see things clearly. She makes the mystery a huge point but the narrative relies solely on the characters, their lives and all that in between.

I thought it was interesting seeing a novel take on the narrative of one gymnastics community. We already have seen Abbott's chops for exploring the cut-throat world of sports and this is certainly a raw look into things. The dynamics between one family and their own little bubble of people with common ground is stark. You have an extraordinary talent; wise beyond her years, perhaps troubled and secretive. And then her competition.

Watching her story unfold is perhaps the most chilling part of the novel. Which is what I love about Megan Abbott's books and the young girls she writes about. They're complex. They've got a lot to offer. They're so much of the world and what we make of them.

Overall, You Will Know Me is not--perhaps--my favourite Megan Abbott book but it is still chilling in its own right. Not a lot can keep me focused when I am sick but it's so easy to lose yourself in the pages of an Abbott novel, so I finished it in one sitting and battled out my desire for sleep to figure out what happened. 

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