Wednesday, April 1, 2015

YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Grace Reinhart is a marriage therapist in Manhattan who has written a book called You Should Have Known.  Her book, directed primarily at women, implores them to pay more attention to the warning signs of a bad match, because a leopard cannot change its spots.  Grace, on the other hand, has it all—a precocious son, a loving husband, and a tony lifestyle.  Then the unthinkable happens when Grace begins to suspect that her beloved husband Jonathan, a pediatric oncologist with a very compassionate bedside manner, has intentionally vanished.  Coincidentally, a female acquaintance has been murdered, but Grace buries her head firmly in the sand until the police force her to accept that the two events may be related.  Secrets spill out from family and friends, but Grace remains essentially in denial, rationalizing her husband’s actions, so that as a reader I wondered if maybe the warning signs were all red herrings.  In any case, Grace is certainly an obvious target for the advice in her own book.  She is not only completely distraught about the upending of her contented life but also wholly demoralized about how she could make such an inconceivable error in judgment, ignoring the proverbial handwriting on the wall.  The first half of the novel is totally enthralling, as we wait for Grace to recognize the obvious implications of her husband’s disappearance.  Then the book loses steam as she finally takes charge of her own life and starts making an effort to rebuild it, with rather predictable results.  I liked the ending, but I had hoped to gain a little more insight into what makes Jonathan tick, but this is strictly Grace’s story, and her journey is one that I enjoyed sharing.

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