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.
This is an uncomfortable examination of the toxic mix of a talented, ambitious child, Devon, and her devoted and ambitious parents, Katie and Eric, in the highly competitive world of gymnastics. It begins with the murder of a beloved young man, Ryan, who is a part of the gym community. He’s killed in a hit and run that is not, as it turns out, an accident. This is the story of how this death exposes all of the secrets of the gym community and Katie’s family. Katie, Devon’s mother, is the first person narrator of the story. She is deeply upset by Ryan’s murder and how everyone in the community reacts including both her daughter and husband. We slowly discover from Katie’s perspective the how the community and her daughter’s place in it as the potential Olympian is seen by everyone.
Since it is told from Katie’s perspective we discover how little she acknowledges what is really going on in her own home. How she doesn’t really know her daughter. She also is slow to acknowledge how ambitious she is herself. An ambition that everyone else in the novel seems to see and know, except Katie. When we see how she ignores her son in favor of Devon that it starts to become glaringly apparent to the reader. Good grief, the boy comes down with Scarlett Fever and she leaves him home alone or with the neighbor to search out information about Devon more than once.
But what is interesting to me as a mother of a daughter is the relationship she has with Devon. How she takes care of everything for the child, but at the same time doesn’t really know her. Katie thinks to herself at one point “That’s what parenthood was about, wasn’t it? Slowly understanding your child less and less until she wasn’t yours anymore but herself.” Which is true I think for most parents. Even “helicopter” parents such as Katie and Eric.
It’s clear early on who killed Ryan, but it’s the why and how and who knew that makes this story interesting. The story is like an onion. It’s the intensity of high level gymnastics for the entire family, and by extension, everyone at the gym that’s fascinating. I wish I could have read this during the Olympics early this year while I was watching the gymnast competitions,and even the swimming and diving competitions. The girls are so young who are competing as adults (is 16 an adult?). And the gymnast look so young, disturbingly so. But this story would have given me a bit of insight into the world of Olympic competition. Finally, I have to say after reading this story I’m glad none of my children were “talented.” I’m not sure I would have wanted to sacrifice everything in order for my kid to be “the best.”
I really enjoyed this book. I gave it 4 Stars on Goodreads.
Have you read You Will Know Me? What did you think of it? What other Megan Abbott books would you recommend? Or books about talented children? Let me know in the comments below!