Perfectly ties together a fascination with the adolescent psyche, the hysteria of small-town cynicism, and the secrets that young people keep among themselves.
Why I love it
Nobody writes about teenagers better than Megan Abbott. The teens of You Will Know Me are elite gymnasts with dreams of making it to the Olympic squad. They sacrifice all of the things that 'œnormal teenagers' take for granted '” sleep, social lives, even food '“ all in the name of their immense ambitions. But a sudden tragedy sends the hopefuls'”and their coaches and parents'”into a panic, questioning whether becoming the next Mary Lou Retton or Simone Biles is worth dying for.
The novel perfectly ties together a fascination with the adolescent psyche, the hysteria of small-town cynicism, and the secrets that young people keep among themselves. (Think high-brow Pretty Little Liars.) And then there are the parents: Katie, the mother of the local gym’s most promising gymnast Devon, wrestles with whether she should nurture her daughter’s athletic aspirations or protect her from them. (Troublingly, her husband Eric is all in on Devon’s career.) Throw in Katie’s obsession with uncovering the truth behind a mysterious death, and you have a sense of how combustible the set-up is.
An anxious dread hangs over the whole novel, and there are even flirtations with the supernatural But even here, Abbott is incredibly restrained, particularly in her plotting, giving space for readers to create their own suspicions and theories about the characters. The novel never manipulates the readers'”it lets them manipulate themselves.
You might also find yourself loving You Will Know Me even if you’re not ordinarily a reader of crime novels. Abbott doesn’t shy away from the genre, but her writing is a cut above many of her contemporaries. She leans on language that is tense but patient, rather than trying to make you turn pages quickly.
Which is perfect because you’ll want to savor every page of this twisty piece of teenage noir.