A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, March 20, 2020

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott


Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with "exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl," (Janet Maslin) You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.



You Will Know MeYou Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott is a 2016 Little Brown publication.

I put this book on hold way back at the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics, and quickly discovered I had a very long wait ahead of me. FINALLY, I got a copy and immediately blew through the book at record speed.

I knew I was about to witness a train wreck, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages. This book disturbed me for days after I finished it, and I still get a queasy feeling when I think about it.

The story, as you know, is centered around Devon Knox, a promising gymnast who has the potential to become an Olympian. But, while Devon is at the center of the story, the spotlight is on her parents and the tight-lipped, exclusive enclave belonging to the world of the elite gymnast.

If you need a book that has a likeable character, (not counting poor little Drew), a person you root for, or who rises up to redeem themselves, or need a mystery/crime story to wrap everything up in a nice little knot, I warn you, this novel does not do that, but instead will leave you feeling disquieted and chilled right down to the bone. It's good stuff!

While we all watch the dwarfed little darlings who perform at Olympic levels and cheer our hearts out for them, hold our collective breaths while they perform death defying aerial feats on a four inch wide beam, four feet off the ground, buying into the heartwarming marketing ploys that guarantee endorsement contracts, we never see what happens behind the scenes. The falls, bruises, sprains, breaks, blisters, and the hours and hours of training, the money involved, and the toll it takes on a family.

This book gives the reader a little inside peek into that world, and exposes an ugly and dark underbelly that includes cover-ups, manipulations, scheming, little fiefdoms, abuse of power, intense pressure, and perhaps something far more sinister, like murder.

Katie and Eric live a middle class existence, but they are in deep debt, paying for all of Devon’s training, and gymnastic needs, while their son Drew lives in his sister’s dark, lonely, and cold shadow, practically ignored by his family, but seeing far more than the adults give him credit for.

Because the Knox family has no friends outside the world of elite gymnast, their parents, and coaches, and because their life is all about Devon, they spend every waking hour they aren’t working or sleeping, at meets and raising money for Devon’s needs. Devon is isolated and sheltered, ridiculed in high school for her stature and muscles, and for her underdeveloped female attributes, but at the gym, she is the object of awe, is looked up to, but she is also the target of jealousy and resentment. There are no boys, parties, or dating for Devon, who must work hard to achieve every goal her parents and those depending on her are expecting of her.

So, when a set-back causes Eric to take steps to get Devon back on track, a young, good looking guy enters this elite world and turns everything upside down and inside out. But, when a shocking crime is committed, this community, so solid and connected to each other will slowly implode, but will also close ranks to protect the only life they know… no matter what the cost.

This story almost held me in a trance like state while I watched the events unfolding before me, as Katie begins to find herself shut out of the life she thought she was so connected to, trying desperately to hold on to her daughter, and her marriage, but is ultimately left shell shocked by the irony of it all.

The tragedy shakes everyone up, exposes cracks in the Knox family, the world of gymnastics, and shines a light on the mental and emotional strain the family is under, the true feelings they have, deep down, and how horribly sad these abuses, neglect, and their obsession really is, but the sadness is far outweighed by how cold and terrifying this book is. It definitely left me feeling shaken, and I admit, I may never watch the Olympic gymnastics events the same way again!!

Overall, you have to read this book to really 'get' the intensity of it, and I hope you will check it out for yourself.





Megan Abbott is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels Queenpin, The Song Is You, Die a Little, Bury Me Deep, The End of Everything, Dare Me, and her latest, The Fever, which was chosen as one of the Best Books of the Year by Amazon, National Public Radio, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.

Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Believer and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the State University of New York and the New School University. In 2013-14, she served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at Ole Miss.

She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She has been nominated for many awards, including three Edgar® Awards, Hammett Prize, the Shirley Jackson Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Folio Prize

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