YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Book Quote:

“If a woman chooses the wrong person, he was always going to be the wrong person: that was all.”

Book Review:

Review by Eleanor Bukowsky В (MAR 18, 2014)

Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel of domestic angst, You Should Have Known, is the story of Grace Reinhart Sachs. She is a therapist who, for fifteen years, has specialized in helping couples mend or sever their relationships as painlessly as possible. In addition, Grace’s publicist has arranged interviews and television appearances to stimulate interest in Grace’s forthcoming work of non-fiction. It cautions women to be on the lookout for warning signs that should give them pause before they invest time, energy, and emotional resources in a serious relationship. Her message is that when women fall in love, they are sometimes dazzled by what they perceive as instant chemistry. Consequently, they may not pay close attention to their partners’ flaws; only when it is too late do they realize that should have been more circumspect.

Grace considers herself fortunate to be wed to the handsome and charming Jonathan, a dedicated pediatric oncologist. The couple has a twelve-year-old son, Henry, who attends an exclusive private school and studies the violin with a top-notch teacher. One day, Grace learns some shocking secrets that prove how vulnerable even a trained professional may be to the blindness that she describes in her soon-to-be-released book. She realizes that her stable and blessed life is actually built on a foundation of lies.

The protagonist is a likeable character who, although a bit too clueless (hence, the irony), is an unselfish, kind, and loving mother. Her resilient and realistic attitude helps her and her son rebound from a series of horrendous setbacks. In addition, the author accurately portrays the entitled, affluent, and self-congratulatory parents who enjoy the good life in Manhattan with their cherished progeny. Korelitz insightfully explores how one handles unpleasant truths that have been carefully hidden from them for years. Do they break down and look to their friends and loved ones to bail them out? Do they run away? Or do they use whatever resources they have to get on with their lives? These are the dilemmas that face a thoroughly chastened Grace, who finally acknowledges how little she really knew about the man she married. You Should Have Known is timely, although it is marred by excessive length, several contrived plot elements, and a too-neat conclusion. Nevertheless, most readers will find Grace appealing enough to follow her struggles with interest and empathy.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 14 readers
PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing (March 18, 2014)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Jean Hanff Korelitz
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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March 18, 2014 В· Judi Clark В· No Comments
Tags: , , ,  В· Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, New York City

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