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You Will Know Me
By Megan Abbott
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How far will you go to achieve a dream? That's the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits — until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.
As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers — about her daughter's fears, her own marriage, and herself — forces Katie to consider whether there's any price she isn't willing to pay to achieve Devon's dream.
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 parental sacrifice, furtive desire, and the staggering force of ambition.
Go Devon! Knox Rox! Next Stop: Elite Qualifiers!
BelStars 4-Ever! Regional Champs!
The vinyl banners rippled from the air vent, the restaurant roiling with parents, the bobbing of gymnast heads, music gushing from the weighty speakers keeled on the window ledges.
Slung around Devon’s neck were three medals, two silver and one gold, her first regional-champion title on the vault.
“I’m so proud of you, sweetie,” Katie whispered in her daughter’s ear. “You can do anything.”
Later, Katie would come to think of that night as the key to everything that came after, the secret code.
But at the time, it was just another party, a celebration like dozens of others, all to honor their exceptional fifteen-year-old daughter.
In six months, Devon would compete in Elite Qualifiers and, after years of bruising toil and hamstring tears and twenty-five thousand dollars in credit-card debt and one fateful misstep at her last qualifier, would at last assume the mantle of Senior Elite. From there, anything felt possible.
Everything was glowing: the disco ball spinning above, and the Sterno lights flickering under the kebabs and lomi-lomi atop long tables skirted with raffia, candles in coconut shells and pineapples that Katie had helped hollow out with ice cream scoopers.
Everyone was wearing a lei in honor of the booster club’s Polynesian theme, and Katie spotted Devon smelling hers, the only one made with real orchids, purple and green, the exalted Coach T. having draped it over her head as she walked under the thatched arch to great applause. Hail our Devon, he’d intoned, that big voice of his, for the future of BelStars rests on these powerful shoulders!
It was the giddiest Katie had ever seen her daughter. Maybe it was the night, or the plastic cup of rum-spiked punch Eric let her have, offering some small release from the tight pincers that held her constantly.
In a corner, her son, Drew, sat with two other quiet fourth-grade boys, eating frozen bananas dipped in chocolate, their heads craned over handheld games. He was quieter than usual, scolded earlier for spilling, or pouring, chocolate milk all over Devon’s perfectly softened good-luck grips.
“But Devon never gets in trouble,” he’d said. “Not for sassing, or doing the treadmill when she’s supposed to rest her knee. Not even for sneaking out at night.”
“I never snuck out,” Devon had insisted.
“You were dreaming,” Katie had reminded him. He was always dreaming about his sister, saying he’d heard her, seen her doing things impossible and forbidden. Mom, Devon was on the roof, flying. Her bed was on fire, Dad. When he was little, he used to dream she had claws for feet.
“Buddy,” Eric had said. “Let your sister have her night.”
But Katie had whispered a promise to him: all the coconut cake and pineapple kebabs he wanted as long as he behaved.
By her second cocktail, fabric petals tickling her cheek, Katie had forgotten about Drew’s misdeed, forgotten even about the uncomfortable moment, hours before at the stadium, a dozen rows ahead of them in the stands, that beet-faced dad in the GymDreamz cap, upset over his daughter’s ranking, who’d shouted that disgusting thing (Devon Knox! Devon sucks c—), only stopping, midsentence, at his wife’s glare.
But Eric had heard it. She could tell by the way his back stiffened, his jaw tightened.
She’d grabbed for his hand. Held it firmly.
But the moment passed, and now Eric stood at one of the banquet tables, carving the glistening ham, pink as a newborn.
Coach Teddy, a parasol’d mai tai impossibly dainty in his bear-paw hand, pulled Katie aside and said he was counting every second until July’s qualifiers, when Devon would gain Senior Elite status and everyone would finally see.
“Because look at her,” he said. “Just look at our once-and-future champ.”
And Katie did, peering through the candy-colored crowd at the poppy and cobalt of Devon’s jacket, its sparkling BelStars logo.
Less than five feet tall, a hard, smooth shell of a body. Hipless, breastless still, but the way she’d transformed her body in the last two years, thighs like trunks, shoulders and biceps straining her tank-top straps, staggered Katie.
“The world is hers now. Is yours. Is ours,” Teddy said, then diving in for a loud rummy smack of a kiss flush on Katie’s lips. “Just like I promised, Katie-did!”
Had that really happened?
It had, and it all made sense that night, the holy consummation of everything.
“I wish I could do what you do,” Kirsten Siefert kept saying to Katie. “I want it for Jordan. I want to know everything you did. If it’s not too late. Have you seen Jordan’s breasts? But Tansy’s only seven…”
The music boomed louder, and soon enough the adults started dancing, taking over the playlist from the endless thump and squeal of teen pop and club music, playing every song they’d loved fifteen years before, every opening chord releasing a chorus of Yeahs and Oh God, remember?
And there was that remarkable conversation with the booster vice president, Molly Chu.
In front of the ladies’ room, capri-panted, soft-shouldered Molly—who rarely talked about anything but gymnastics and carpooling—leaned close and told Katie how, when she was a little girl, all she wanted was to be a majorette, like Erica Neubauer, the prettiest girl at Shelby West High.
“I used to watch her in all the parades, marching in those red-tassel booties, hurling her batons up to heaven,” she said, giggling like a girl. “I remember watching her and thinking: That is all I want.”
And she told Katie how she’d stolen a piece of pipe from her father’s tool bench, sprayed it silver, and jabbed a cork on one end.
“I’d twirl in the front yard for hours,” she said. “It looked like a pinwheel in the sun.”
She glanced at Katie, her eyes filling.
“Remember that kind of wanting? That kind that’s just for yourself? And you don’t even have to feel guilty about it? You wouldn’t know you should.”
Katie nodded and nodded and nodded, because it felt true even if she couldn’t name the thing she’d wanted. But something. Looking around, she wondered, Was it this?
In front of them, a group of the littlest girls, still in their leotards—they never liked to take them off—started dancing in a circle together, chins lifted high and faces pink like ice cream.
“It’s free then,” Molly said, watching the girls, tilting her head and blinking fast. “It’s never free again.”
“What?” Katie said, because she’d lost the thread, if she’d ever had it. “What?”
But the music swallowed them, and then someone brought out a tray of shots, flaming.
Later, she found herself dancing with Eric (which hadn’t happened in years, since that night they’d snuck to the hotel bar after a TOPs meet, Devon and Drew asleep upstairs, that lounge singer inexplicably crooning “Smells Like Teen Spirit”).
Eric had always been a terrific dancer, and the championship and the lanterned loveliness of the old catering hall—they all enlivened him, his smile and his fingers moving so delicately, his arm grabbing her so firmly, and didn’t everyone in the hall look at them?
A thought came to her rum-soaked head: He’s never loved me more than this. Because of Devon. Because of Devon. Something else I owe Devon.
But they were changing partners, and Molly, who would later pass out in the wrong car, wiggled over, lassoed Eric, while Katie, who was tired anyway, ambled toward the ladies’ room looking for Devon or Drew.
When she returned, there was Coach T. spinning his wife, Tina, around, a splotch of maraschino on her immaculate white shirt.
And the starry new arrivals: Coach’s niece Hailey, yanking at the hand of that boyfriend of hers, Ryan Beck, both of them so tanned and love-blissed.
This would be the piece that mattered most later, months later when Ryan was gone. She would think of their arrival and wonder why she hadn’t seen it all coming. But who could have seen anything at all that night but their bright-spangled beauty?
Hailey, the favored junior tumbling coach, blond and magnificent, a towering five feet seven, was beloved by her eight- and nine-year-olds (Kiss those knees, sweetheart! she’d tell them as they did their back hip circles), all of whom stared at her now from the corner, gaping at her lanky prettiness as if it were an achievement to strive for—after nailing the front tuck, before the back layout.
And Ryan, whose appearance sent all the girls into satellites of whispered frenzy.
“The only one here more handsome than your husband,” said Becca Plonski, laughing.
And suddenly there was Molly Chu again.
Improbably, she was tossing a tiki pole into the air like it was a baton, like she was still the star twirler of Shelby West High.
My, Katie thought, it is like a pinwheel.
The music kept getting louder, the Forbidden Tiki playlist spinning, and Greg Siefert corralled Katie, pitcher of blue Hawaiians in one hand, reaching for hers with the other, and he was telling a story about Eric shouting at some man in the parking lot.
“It was great, it was great. That one who’d been talking trash about our Devon. And Eric just let him have it. Hell, I was glad to see it.”
…But Katie was drunk, and it didn’t register, the music loud in a way that reminded her of when loud music was an urgent necessity, a full-body sensation, and the next thing she knew she was back at the punch bowl and Greg was limboing with Hailey, freckled and game.
Then came the part that seemed like nothing at the time. Months later, after Ryan was gone, its meaning would change, as if by magic, every time Katie thought about it:
Ryan, dark-haired and grinning, took Katie’s hand, spun her once, twice, three times, to a power ballad she remembered from age fourteen, an art-class infatuation, a fumbled encounter behind the shop room, then another girl and her heart breaking.
Before she knew it, though, Hailey was grabbing him back, a wink and a gleam in her eye like, Don’t you dare, he’s mine!
At some point, she lost Devon, but there was Eric talking to Gwen Weaver on the chilly loading dock, sharing a purloined cigarette and laughing like they’d been shouting for hours.
Everyone was smoking, it turned out. She’d even caught Ryan sneaking a puff in the hallway, the back door propped open, the cold air giving her goose bumps.
Ryan, who smelled like soap and had the nicked, brambled hands of a cook.
And she’d ended up in some long conversation with someone about something, and she never could remember anything about it after except the feeling of sticky, pineapple-streaked wall against her back.
Finally, she and Eric shared one last dance before everything broke, and pressing against his shirt she smelled candle wax and a dozen perfumes; he was teasing her about the coconut husk furred onto her chest from the dance with Greg Siefert, or Bobby, or Ryan, who’d since been charged with making something called a momtini, carrying a tray for all the ladies.
“He is a momtini,” whispered Kirsten Siefert, nearly rubbing her hands.
Crushed cocktail parasols gathered on the sills and crumpled leis collected in the corners like parade remnants catching on her feet, heels too high, too narrow, and she found Devon in the restroom, washing her face, washing all the performance makeup away.
Turning to her mother, she looked oddly blank.
For a second, Katie wondered about that look, but the second passed, and then there was more dancing, and more visits to the punch bowl, and the next morning she would puzzle over when she’d even been outside, finding grass blades between her toes, dried mud on the pad of her foot.
The ride home, Devon covered her head and wouldn’t speak, and they thought she’d probably had more than one glass of punch but left her to it.
And then Drew, gorged on coconut cake, threw up into Katie’s hands.
But none of it mattered, everything felt wonderful and she and Eric laughed and laughed.
Back in the bedroom, Eric standing over her, his face hidden in the dark.
“Wait, wait,” she asked, remembering what Greg had told her, “did you get into an argument with that dad after the meet? The creep who called Devon that name? In the parking lot, did you—”
“Who told you that?” he said, laughing, his hands hooked around her legs, throwing her back on the bed. It reminded her of when they first met, that laugh. She’d sold him cotton candy at the Kiwanis fair.
That was more than sixteen years ago, and now, sometimes, they didn’t see each other for days other than in the blue hours of late night and predawn. They knew each other most deeply through body-warmed sheets and the tangle of half dreams.
You might think it would doom the marriage, unless you pondered it for one more beat. Consider the prospect that your spouse could forever remain slightly other from you, his body never too familiar, his hands on you almost wholly to seduce you. You were mysterious to him and he was mysterious to you.
Other moms, in the confidences of long huddles in the stands, waiting in line for the restroom during a meet, would confess sexless stretches lasting for months, barren and mutual. Katie could only nod kindly and say nothing because Eric still felt like her secret lover, furtive and surprising, a bristly mouth on her neck, half-asleep murmurs and, in the morning, the soft welt on her shoulder, the lingering shiver of her legs.
They had been together so long, and a part of it was this. They had shared it long past when all the other couples they knew had stopped sharing anything other than credit-card debt and casual, or focused, resentment.
Strangely, in part it was because of Devon. They shared so much in sharing her, her endeavor. She held them together, tightly.
The morning after the party, Katie turned over and saw a violet smear on her pillowcase.
It took her a while to remember. After midnight, trundling Drew across the ice-ribbed parking lot and into the car, Eric still inside, trying to find Devon, saying final good-byes.
A tap on the shoulder and it was Ryan Beck again. Smiling that chipped-front-tooth smile.
“Devon’s?” he asked. Dangling from his open palm was a familiar lei, purple and green orchids, petals shredded. “I found it over by the dumpsters.”
“What a shame,” Katie said, feeling it more sharply than she should, blaming it on the rum. “Thanks.”
He draped it over her head, its dampness tickling her, his sneakers nearly slipping on the rimy concrete. A squeak, a skid. Later, she would wonder if he’d slipped like that on Ash Road seconds before he died, his sneakers on the sandy gravel as the headlights came.
“Careful,” Katie said, a catch in her voice. “It’s not safe.”
“Nothing ever is,” he said, winking, his white tee glowing under the lights, backing away, into the dark of the emptying lot. “Good night, Mrs. Knox. Good night.”
“The eyes of a young girl can tell everything. And I always look in their eyes. There I can see if I will have a champion.”
—Neshka Robeva, gymnast and coach
If she ever had to talk about it, which she never would, Katie would have to go back, back years before it happened. Before Coach T. and Hailey and Ryan Beck. Back before Devon was born, when there were only two Knoxes, neither of whom knew a tuck from a salto or what you called that glossy egg-shaped platform in the center of the room, the vault that would change their lives.
And Katie would tell it in three parts.
You could only begin to understand what happened, and why, if you understood these three things.
And Devon’s talent. Because that had been there from the beginning, maybe even before the beginning.
In proud-parent moments, of which there were too many to count, she and Eric would talk about feeling Devon in the womb, her body arching and minnowing and promising itself to them both.
Soon, it turned to kicking. Kicking with such vigor that, one night, Katie woke to a popping sound and, breathless, keeled over in pain. Eric stared helplessly as her stomach seemed to spasm with alien horrors.
What was inside her? they wondered, her rib poking over her sternum, dislocated while she slept.
It was no alien, but it was something extraordinary.
It was Devon, a marvel, a girl wonder, a prodigy, a star.
Devon, kicking her way out. Out, out, out.
And they had made her.
And, in some ways, she had made them.
For years, Katie would touch the spot the rib had poked, as if she could still feel the tender lump. It was reassuring somehow. It reminded her that it had always been there, that force in Devon, that fire.
Like that line in that poem, the one she’d read in school, a lifetime ago. Back when life felt so cramped and small, when she never thought anything so grand could ever happen.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.
“She’s been doing it since she was three? How is that even possible?”
That’s what other people, never gym people, always said. Making private judgments, unspoken charges of helicopter parenting, unmet maternal, or paternal, ambitions, Olympic dreams. No one ever believed that Katie and Eric never cared about sports, or even competition. Eric had played high-school baseball, indifferently. Katie had never been athletic at all, devoting her adolescence to art class and boys and sneaking off to see bands, the vestige of which was the Fight Like a Grrrl tattoo snaking around her left thigh.
“My three-year-old just wanted to play,” they’d say smugly. “We just let her play.”
As if it had ever been a choice, or a decision.
“It started as play,” Eric always told people. “It started with the trampoline.”
Then he’d tell them how, one long Sunday, he’d installed it in the yard, leaning over the auger rented from the hardware store, a pile of chicken wire, empty beer bottles at his feet.
The trampoline was the better story, an easier one, but it wasn’t the truth.
Because the trampoline came after the accident, came after the Foot. And the accident was how it truly began. How that force found its fuse.
Three-year-old Devon, barefoot, running across the lawn to Daddy.
Her foot sliding on a grass mound, she stumbled into the rust-eaten lawn mower Eric had left idling, her foot so tiny it slipped behind the blade guard, the steel shearing off two toes and a squeak of soft foot flesh.
A few feet away, face white with panic, Eric slid to his knees beside her and somehow managed to pluck both toes from the grass.
Packed in ice, they looked like pink peas and Katie held them in her hands as Eric drove with careering ferocity the six miles to the hospital where doctors tried (but failed) to reattach them, like stringing beads, Devon’s face blue and wet.
“It could have been worse,” their pediatrician, Dr. Yossarian, told them later. “With the riding mowers, sometimes the whole foot pops off.” And he made an appalling pucker sound with his mouth.
“But what can we do?” Eric asked, even as Dr. Yossarian assured them Devon would be fine. “There must be something.”
So Dr. Yossarian suggested kiddie soccer, or ice-skating, or tumbling.
“It’ll help with balance,” he said.
In years to come, this would feel like a moment of shimmering predestiny, in the same way everything about Devon’s life eventually came to feel mythic within the family. Fate, destiny, retroactivated by a Sears Craftsman.
That fall, Katie drove Devon to the Tumbleangels Gym on Old Taylor Road and signed them both up for Mommy & Me Movers & Shakers.
“At first, she’ll be overly cautious,” Dr. Yossarian warned, “but try to push her.”
Except it was just the opposite. Within a few weeks, Devon was forward- and backward-rolling. Next came chin-ups, handstands, cartwheels as accomplished as those of girls twice her age.
The Human Rubber Band, Katie called her.
Supergirl, Eric called her. Monkey-bar superstar!
And, in some mysterious way, it was as if the foot were helping her.
Frankenfoot, Katie dubbed it. Making it their private joke. Show Mommy how you work that Frankenfoot.
By the end of her first month, Devon had graduated to Tiny Tumblerz, and within a year, Devon was the gym’s VIP, her cubbyhole sprayed silver and festooned with sticker stars.
Watching her on the practice beam, Katie would think, This piece of wood is four inches wide, two feet in the air. Four inches. And I’m going to let my daughter plant her dimpled feet on that and do kicks and dips?
“Do the O,” the other girls would say, cheering as Devon arched her back from a handstand until her tiny bottom touched the top of her head. Every now and then, Eric would lift her up in the air to see if her backbone was really there.
Prodigy, Katie whispered in her most private thoughts but never said aloud. Eric said it. He said it a lot.
And so Eric installed the trampoline.
Hours, days devoted to making the yard ready for her talent, laying thick mats like dominoes. Just as he would eventually do in the basement, hanging a pull-up bar, scraping the concrete bumps off the floor, covering it with panel mats and carpet remnants, wrapping foam around the ceiling posts. For Devon.
And so gymnastics became the center, the mighty spine of everything for them.
Devon turning five, six, seven, thousands of hours driving to and from the gym, to and from the meets, a half a dozen emergency-room visits for the broken toe, knee sprain, elbow popping on the mat, seven stitches after Devon fell from the bars and bit through her tongue.
And the money. Gym tuition, meet fees, equipment, travel, booster fees. She and Eric had stopped counting, gradually becoming used to swelling credit-card debt.
Then, when Drew came along, their delicate, thoughtful son, nothing changed. Quiet, easy, he fit so perfectly—in temperament, in disposition—with everything that was already happening. Devon was happening.
After one meet, Devon medaling in three of four events, in the car on the way home, their fingers stiff from cold, Eric asked Devon, age nine, how it was, how it felt.
“I beat everybody,” she said, solemnly. “I was better than everybody.”
Her eyelashes blinking slowly, like she was surprised.
And Katie and Eric had laughed and laughed, even though Katie felt sorry, always did, for all those other girls who just weren’t as good, didn’t have that magical something that made Devon Devon.
“You gotta get her out of there,” a competition judge confided to Eric the following day. “Ditch that strip-mall gym. Get her to BelStars. Get her to Coach T.
PRAISE FOR YOU WILL KNOW ME:
"[Abbott] is in top form in this novel. She resumes her customary role of black cat, opaque and unblinking, filling her readers with queasy suspicion at every turn."
—Jennifer Senior, New York Times
"...brilliant...beneath the glittering carapace of Abbott's lush, skillful, subtle writing, it's impossible to know what we're supposed to think. One of the strengths of this novel is that it doesn't mind what we believe--it is cooly at peace with whatever our take on matters might be...we, as readers, are made entirely responsible for our own theories and conclusions. In that sense, this is an exceptionally plausible work of fiction...The wrong kind of ambiguity in a crime novel can be fatal. Abbott judges it impeccably here..all of this Abbott pulls off with groundbreaking skill...excellent."
—Sophie Hannah, New York Times Book Review
- "Taut and raw, this is a mesmerizing story from a master of suspense."—Kim Hubbard, People
- "Compulsively creepy...a can't-put-it down novel that's a little bit Nancy Kerrigan vs. Tonya Harding, a little bit The Omen."—Leigh Haber, Oprah.com
- "It's Abbott's psychological smarts that make You Will Know Me such a standout...Abbott steadily commands our attention with a suspense plot that unexpectedly somersaults and back flips whenever a landing seems in sight."—Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post
- "Megan Abbott has written a book with the taut and muscular ruthlessness of a gymnast, a book that disorients with eerie countermelodies...You Will Know Me takes swift, unsettling, apparently effortless flight."—Annalisa Quinn, NPR.org
- "Abbott's finest novel thus far, a dark inquest into the pressures to which American society subjects its girls."—Charles Finch, USA Today
"Master of mystery Abbott...brings her noir sensibility to the world of elite teen gymnastics."
"Mesmerizing and nerve-jangling...beautifully adept at capturing the intensity of feeling inherent in the flush of youth, the more-innocent aspects of growing up...But it's how she infuses the ordinary with distinct oddities that keeps this tale humming scarily along."
—Daneet Steffans, The Boston Globe
- "Brilliant and disturbing."—Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal
- "[A] sharply plotted novel."—Oline Cogdill, Associated Press
"Abbott commands our attention with a plot that somersaults and back flips whenever a safe landing seems in sight. But what's even more ingenious is how artfully her novel draws us readers into that closed world of BelStars Gym...You Will Know Me is a terrific accompaniment to this summer's Olympic frenzy. It's an all-around winner."
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air
- "Almost unbearably tense, chilling and addictive, You Will Know Me deftly transports the reader to the hyper-competitive arena of gymnastics where the dreams and aspirations of not just families but entire communities rest on the slender shoulders of one teenage girl. Exceptional."—Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train
- "You Will Know Me hits that rarefied sweet spot between unnerving psychological suspense and a family drama with heart, inducing equal parts dread and unease, empathy and warmth. The pages couldn't turn fast enough...Luscious writing, a timely and unique premise, and an ending that will haunt you all summer long."—Jessica Knoll, New York Times bestselling author of Luckiest Girl Alive
- "Is there anything Megan Abbott can't do? We will have to wait for the answer to that question because You Will Know Me continues her formidable winning streak. This story of an ordinary family with an extraordinary child is gorgeously written, psychologically astute, a page-turner that forces you to slow down and savor every word. And yes--please forgive me--she totally sticks the landing."—Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of Hush Hush
- "Megan Abbott's latest thriller plunges readers into the shockingly realistic life of young, female gymnasts whose severely regulated lives come with unthinkable consequences. Gritty, graphic, and yet beautiful and dreamlike in the way the story unfolds, You Will Know Me comes barreling at you with all the power and urgency of a high-speed train, as Abbott asserts herself as one of the greatest crime writers of our time."—Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl
- "You Will Know Me takes you into the dark heart of family, a journey that feels more menacing with every page. Abbott cranks the tension up in this disturbing tale of exactly what we are prepared to do for our children--I was reading compulsively into the night. A beautifully written, gripping read that feels unshakably real."—Kate Hamer, The Girl in the Red Coat
- "Like stepping into a world with slightly too little oxygen. Dark and compelling, this is a 2 a.m. novel."—Lucie Whitehouse, author of Before We Met
- "You Will Know Me is powerful and unsettling, a portrait of a family where tenderness can mean pain as well as love. Megan Abbott is exceptionally good at teasing out telling moments to reveal deeply buried truths."—Jane Casey, author of The Missing
- "Chillingly believable, beautifully written...You Will Know Me is Megan Abbott's best novel to date. A triumph."—Paula Daly, author of The Mistake I Made
- "Megan Abbott writes like a dream and grips like a vice. Weeks later, I still can't stop thinking about You Will Know Me."—Erin Kelly, author of The Poison Tree
- "The tension starts in the second paragraph of page one and insinuates itself brilliantly throughout, unsettling and wrong footing me. I read it, holding my breath like Devon before the big leap. Loved every minute."—Fiona Barton, author of The Widow
"Look out for the gloriously talented Megan Abbott. She's ruthlessly acute, funny, heartbreaking, lyrical, brilliant...I've loved every one of her novels, but none as much as You Will Know Me. Three weeks after finishing it, I still pick it up again, to re-experience the delicious pleasure I felt, devouring it."
—Joyce Maynard, New York Times bestselling author of Under the Influence
- "Thriller Award-winner Abbott (The Fever) takes a piercing look at what one family will sacrifice in the name of making their daughter a champion...Abbott keenly examines the pressures put on girls' bodies and the fierce, often misguided love parents have for their children."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Abbott has a knack for dissecting the dark, beating heart of the most all-American activity. Her Dare Me (2012) brought a Fight Club intensity to cheerleading, and her she captures ripped palms and the muscle-bound physiques that attract the cruel taunts of classmates. But this equally dazzling tale is set not in the teens' world but rather in the adult boosters' strange tribe, exploring the agony and urgency of their desire, the unknowability of others, and the burden of expectations laid on the gymnasts. It's vivid, troubling, and powerful--and Abbott totally sticks the landing."
—Booklist (Starred Review)
- "In true Abbott style, nothing is predictable here; the plot consistently confounds expectations with its clever twists and turns. Admirers of Patricia Highsmith, Laura Lippman, and Kimberly Pauley are in for a treat."—Library Journal (Starred Review)
"[Abbott] returns to the subject she always captures so intensely: the private desires of teenage girls."
"[Abbott] does killer teens better than anyone...Menace and more menace."
—Sheryl Connelly, New York Daily News
"Abbott's ability to build suspense and feed on readers' fear is nearly unparalleled...It's both terrifying and gripping."
—Meredith Turits, Elle.com
"A smart, tense thriller about how far people will go to achieve a dream."
—Brenda Janowitz, Popsugar
"Present-day fiction's most terrifying chronicler of the inner lives of teenage girls."
"Chock full of tension and suspense...gripping."
—Claire Stern, InStyle.com
"This spell-binding novel explores the darkness in teenage girls and gives insight into the disciplined world of elite gymnasts and the parents that get them there."
—Holly Parmalee, Serendipity Magazine
"The twists are good, as they are in any page-turner worth its salt. But Abbott is exceptional because she writes characters that are as careful as her plotting."
—Kevin Nguyen, GQ.com
- "[You Will Know Me] will keep you glued to your beach blanket."—Marie Claire
- "The young crafter of simmering psychological thrillers alights once again on teenage girls and the hidden forces--ambition, love, envy--that tie them together and drive them apart, sometimes fatally."—Boris Kachka, Vulture
"Abbott is a master at getting inside the teen mind and then exploring its outer reaches. Now she delves into the fierce world of gymnastics, all-consuming desire and what it takes to create a true champion...Cloaked within a mystery is another story--about marriage, parenting and the sanctity of family."
—Darcy Jacobs, Family Circle
"Megan Abbott must have ice in her veins. In hijacking young-adult fiction for her own devious grown-up purposes, she writes from such a chilly remove you may want to turn up the thermostat. But the underlying tension she sustains is so beautifully unbearable, you may be unable to leave the couch."
—Lloyd Sachs, The Chicago Tribune
"What puts flesh on the bones of Abbott's flying cheetah of suspense is her insight into parenting, marriage, and various sorts of interpersonal rivalry...The characters of the adult women in this book, none completely likable, are knowingly depicted...Abbott [is] above other writers in this genre, making her something of a Stephen King, whose work hangs right on the edge of the literary while making your skin crawl."
—Marion Winik, Newsday
"Megan Abbott is the mistress of noir."
—Sarah Bryan Miller, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Abbott seems to tap into that thing that makes ordinary teen girls so dangerous in that toxic mix of hormones and lack of sense of self, and then she dials it up a tick or two to homicidal."
—Richard Alley, Memphis Flyer
"[Abbott's] books are driven as much by intricate character development and rhythmic sentences as they are by plot. They could easily be shelved with literary fiction."
—Lucy Feldman, Wall Street Journal
- "You Will Know Me is the kind of tense, haunting tale that only Megan Abbott could tell, and once again cements her place as one of the most talented storytellers currently working in any genre."—Barry Lee Dejasu, New York Journal of Books
"Simply put, You Will Know Me is THE must read novel of the summer, and perhaps all of 2016."
—Keith Rawson, LitReactor
- "Abbott is so good at writing these fierce competitors, almost all of whom get into some kind of trouble, because she, too, is golden. If you don't know her by now, you should."—Lisa Levy, Literary Hub
"If, then, you are secretly craving a modicum of drama to go with your women's gymnastics, you should read Megan Abbott's leotard-centric You Will Know Me...the style of her prose, and her focus on teen-age desire, ambition, and secrecy, have a broad, cinematic appeal."
—Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker
"Abbott, who put a menacing spin on the world of cheerleading in Dare Me, amplifies the sense of danger implicit in high-stakes gymnastics, as well as the competition among the highly invested parents. Think Dance Moms, directed by Alfred Hitchcock."
—School Library Journal
"Queen of teenage noir."
—Amy Gentry, Bustle
- "Un-put-down-able."—Billy Heller, New York Post
"Megan Abbott gets better and better with each book."
—Ray Palen, BookReporter
"Abbott is a genius at writing about ambitious teen girls who are more complicated, deep, and fascinating than society gives them credit for. You Will Know Me is a suspenseful, wicked, eerily smart book."
—Maris Kreizman, Esquire.com
"It's the chilling emotional twists that make the story so intriguing."
—Margie Romero, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PRAISE FOR THE FEVER:
"Megan Abbott has created a mesmerizing, modern portrait of teenage life today. . . The Fever holds true to its title: It's dark, disturbing, strangely beautiful and utterly unshakeable."—Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
- "If the phenomena that led to the Salem Witch trials were to revisit the world today, it might very well look like the scenario in Megan Abbott's engrossing, disturbing, panic attack of a novel, The Fever. In a time when suicide and pregnancy pacts can go viral, this story of mass hysteria in a high school is not only completely plausible -- it's impossible to put down."—Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of The Storyteller
- "Stunning....Nothing should be taken at face value in this jealousy-and hormone-soaked world except that Abbott is certainly our very best guide."—Kirkus (Starred Review)
- "If you think there's an American author writing about the thorny intricacies of female relationships with more smarts and verve than Megan Abbott, feel free to step forward and make your case."—Adam Sternbergh, Slate
- "The book to beat...in the 'Is it the next Gone Girl?' sweepstakes."—Janet Maslin, New York Times
- "The beauty of Abbott's writing, and the skilled way she weaves the men's lesser narratives into Deenie's story, make this a standout in contemporary crime fiction. Megan Abbott knows what girls are made of."—Clea Simon, The Boston Globe
- On Sale
- Jul 26, 2016
- Page Count
- 352 pages
- Little, Brown and Company