With the opening of our new public library, I had to stop by and pick up a quick read. In less than 24 hours I completed You Will Know Me: A Novel by Megan Abbott.
I will try not to give any spoilers here. Basically this is a story of competitive gymnastics and the human psyche. With several subplots as well.
As a parent, I related because we all want the best for our children. And in the hard world of gymnastics or any competitive sport I imagine there are characters like the ones in this novel. Hell in real life there are helicopter moms and tiger moms and whatever other kind of moms – the Texas cheerleading moms … who will stop at nothing to help their children succeed. And it’s not just the mothers. Fathers take an equal part in some cases.
I never ever wanted to be that parent who lived vicariously through my children. I succeeded somewhat. When he didn’t want to play baseball or she didn’t want to dance anymore, we stopped. Yet with every word and every motion, I cast a field of influence. Ones that I can’t take back. Things that I forced upon them without even really meaning to or knowing that I was doing it. More on that for another day. Suffice it to say words can hurt. And once they’re out of your mouth you can’t ever take them back. My new motto is it’s better to be quiet than to say the wrong thing.
Anyhow, I do think I still want the best and would do whatever I could to help my kiddos. If they needed my help that is. I’m only an outsider in their lives these days. Feeling sorry for myself. Feeling unneeded. Feeling like a stranger in a strange land. To quote the title of a book by Robert Heinlein. I jotted down this scene from You Will Know Me which captures my feelings perfectly.
“Isn’t it a strange day”, she said, “when you realize you have no idea what is going on in your kids head? One morning you wake up and there’s an alien in your house. They look like your kid, sound a little like them but they are not your kid. They’re something else that you don’t know. And they keep changing. They never stop changing on you.”
To take it a step further, the proverbial question is: Do we ever really know anyone? No. I don’t think we do. Hell we don’t even really know ourselves. Until something dramatic happens and life kicks you in the gut, then maybe you know what you’re capable of. Until you’re tested or experience a tragedy firsthand, it’s really hard to say what you’ll do or how you’ll react. There but for the grace of God go I and all that stuff. I’m not trying to make light of it. I firmly believe that I’m capable of horrors my mind can’t even fathom. All in the name of protecting my family. Or protecting myself maybe?
However I think I’d be that mom who turned my kid in if he/she ever did something illegal. You do the crime you do the time. Actions have consequences. And sometimes you have to learn that first hand. No one can do it for you.
I hope I haven’t spoiled the book for anyone. I really didn’t give away much of the plot. I suggest you pick it up and read it. It’s a page turner for sure. And you can see the subtleties in between the lines. As there were many themes along with the major storyline. And questions of morality as well. This book is full of things that make you go hmmmm. 🤔
As always, more to come.