You Should Have Known (Korelitz)

You Should Have Known 
Jean Hanff Korelitz, 2014
Grand Central Publishing
448 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781455599493

Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself.

Devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice, her days are full of familiar things: she lives in the very New York apartment in which she was raised, and sends Henry to the school she herself once attended.

Dismayed by the ways in which women delude themselves, Grace is also the author of a book You Should Have Known, in which she cautions women to really hear what men are trying to tell them. But weeks before the book is published a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only an ongoing chain of terrible revelations.

Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—May 16, 1961
Where—New York City, New York, USA
Education—B.A., Dartmouth College
Currently—lives in New York City

Jean Hanff Korelitz was born and raised in New York and graduated from Dartmouth College and contined with post-baccalaureate studies at Clare College, Cambridge.

She is the author of one book of poems, The Properties of Breath (1989), and five novels (see below). She has also written a novel for children, Interference Powder (2003), and has published essays in the anthologies Modern Love and Because I Said So, as well as in Vogue, Real Simple, More, Newsweek, and others.

She lives in New York City with her husband (Irish poet Paul Muldoon, poetry editor at The New Yorker and Princeton poetry professor). They have two children. (Adapted from the publisher.)

• 1996 - A Jury of Her Peers
• 1999 - The Sabbathday River
• 2006 - The White Rose
• 2009 - Admission
• 2014 - You Should Have Known

Book Reviews
[S]mart and devious…Ms. Korelitz is able to glide smoothly from a watchful, occasional sinister comedy of New York manners into a much more alarming type of story.
Janet Maslin - New York Times

Dramatic irony isn't the only pleasure of You Should Have Known; Grace's husband's pathology is erratic enough for behavior that holds genuine surprise. But the real suspense here lies in wondering when Grace will catch up to the reader. When and how will she come to know what she should have known and at some level maybe already did? The momentum of the novel, not to mention the writing, takes off just as Grace starts stumbling her way, arms outstretched, toward a glimpse of her husband's true nature.
Susan Dominus - New York Times Book Review

(Starred review.) This excellent literary mystery...with authentic detail in a rarified contemporary Manhattan.... The novel’s first third offers readers an authoritative glimpse into the busy-but-leisurely lives of private-school moms.... [until] one....was found murdered.... The plot borders on hyperbole when it comes to upending what we know about one character, but that doesn’t take much away from this intriguing and beautiful book.
Publishers Weekly

[I]n the vein of Gone Girl or The Silent Wife; unfortunately, the suspense is marred by the overwritten prose. The book tends to be very New York-centric, so readers unfamiliar with the vagaries of life in Manhattan may find little to enjoy; still, fans of Korelitz's first novel may be curious enough to give this a shot. —Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH
Library Journal

Grace Reinhart Sachs...lives the perfect life.... Karma being what it is, it only stands to reason that the perfection of her life...will fall apart at the mere hint of scandal. And so it does.... Korelitz writes with clarity and an unusual sense of completeness.... A smart, leisurely study of midlife angst.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
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(We'll add specific questions if and when they're made available by the publisher. In the meantime, use our generic mystery questions.)

Mystery / Crime / Suspense Thrillers

1. Talk about the characters, both good and bad. Describe their personalities and motivations. Are they fully developed and emotionally complex? Or are they more one-dimensional heroes and villains?

2. What do you know...and when do you know it? At what point in the book do you, the reader, begin to piece together what happened?

3. Good crime writers are skillful at hiding clues in plain sight. How well does the author hide the clues in this work?

4. Does the author use red-herrings—false clues—to purposely lead readers astray?

5. Talk about plot's twists & turns—those surprising developments that throw everything you think you've figured out into disarray. Do they enhance the story, add complexity, and build suspense? Are they  plausible? Or do the twists & turns feel forced and preposterous—inserted only to extend the story.

6. Does the author ratchet up the story's suspense? Did you find yourself anxious—quickly turning pages to learn what happened? How does the author build suspense?

7. What about the ending—is it satisfying? Is it probable or believable? Does it grow out of clues previously laid out by the author (see Question 2). Or does the ending come out of the blue? Does it feel forced...tacked-on...or a cop-out? Or perhaps it's too predictable. Can you envision a better, or different, ending?

8. Are there certain passages in the book—ideas, descriptions, or dialogue—that you found interesting or revealing...or that somehow struck you? What lines, if any, made you stop and think?

9. Overall, does the book satisfy? Does it live up to the standards of a good crime story or suspense thriller? Why or why not?

(Generic Mystery Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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