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You Should Have Known

ISBN-10: 1455599492
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: March 18, 2014

YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN has been published in 18 foreign countries and optioned for film

 

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 at the very beginning of the relationship. 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.

Reviews

  • Entertainment Weekly

    You Should Have Known in Entertainment Weekly

    The Thriller We're Already Obsessed With - Jean Hanff Korelitz, the author of ''Admission'' -- a college-admissions novel made into the 2013 movie starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd -- returns with a potential blockbuster about a Manhattan therapist who discovers her husband of 20 years is a sociopath.
    ▼ Read more

    Your main character, Grace, is a marriage counselor. Did you model her on anyone?
    My mother is a tough-love therapist. Remember the therapist from An Unmarried Woman? She sits on the floor cushions and says to Jill Clayburgh, "What do you feel? How do you feel about that?" My mother wasn't like that. She was like, "Are you kidding me? Come on!" I definitely set out to make Grace a tough nut. It's a quality that she shares with all of my female characters. My reader reviews on Goodreads go,"I just didn't like her," about my characters. That makes me want to say, "Well, she wouldn't like you, either, but that's not the point."

    Did you always want this novel to be about marital secrets and the idea of never knowing the one you're with?
    Yeah. We look at somebody like Ruth Madoff and we ask ourselves, "How could she not have known?" You think these stories are stranger than fiction, but they happen all the time. The "stranger beside me" comes in all sorts of permutations.

    We don't hear about them that often.
    Usually when they make the news it's because there's a weapon involved. [Laughs] But there are small deaths and small betrayals and abandonments and thefts. Sociopaths take what they want. It might not be your life, or your life savings, but it may be your sense of security, the sense that you can trust your impressions of people. There are all sorts of little thefts.

    Everyone who's been involved with a sociopath has that moment where they ''should have known'' the truth. You really slam Grace for that. Did you mean to be so hard on her?
    Yeah. The books that I've written often feature a strong woman who I then take apart down to the studs. I don't know why I do this. I have this tendency to think other people have things together, and I want to take a peek under the hood. Are other people like that or is it just me?

    We're all like that.
    Good.

    Do you think your novel, like Gone Girl, is part of a fiction trend of not seeing the truth about those we're closest to?
    I think that many of us have this fascination with knowing who someone really is. It's the idea that informs Pride and Prejudice. You make snap judgments about who people are and then bring your own creative energy and personal needs to fill in the gaps and make the person that you want that person to be. In fiction, it's been a trend for as long as there's been the novel.

  • Los Angeles Times

    You SHould Have Known in Los Angeles Times

    t's almost impossible to put down Jean Hanff Korelitz's riveting new novel for the first 200 pages as it dismantles the comfortable existence of a couples therapist over the course of a few nightmarish weeks.▼ Read more

    We first meet Grace Reinhart Sachs ensconced in her office, being interviewed by a Vogue writer about her forthcoming book, "You Should Have Known." This book-within-a-book argues that women get themselves into bad marriages by failing to see the clear signs that were there from the beginning about their spouses' failings.

    Granted, this seems a little harsh and Grace a little smug. But as she interacts with the wealthy, entitled parents at her 12-year-old son Henry's ultra-swanky Manhattan private school (the one she attended when it was a hippie-ish place for the only moderately privileged), we're instinctively on the side of this native New Yorker who sees her city turning into an enclave for the super-rich.

    She and her husband, Jonathan, are different, Grace believes; they work to help people. He's a pediatric oncologist known for his warm involvement with his patients and their families. This means he keeps odd hours, and they don't have any close friends, because "Jonathan didn't need many people in his life." Although she regrets the childhood friends she's let slip away, she's quite sure she has "the right life, with the right husband, the right child, the right home, the right work."

    Readers, of course, can already see that Grace has missed a lot of signs indicating there's something not right about the seemingly perfect (yet somehow always absent) Jonathan. Nonetheless, we share her sense of lurking dread when it all starts to come unglued, because Korelitz so expertly unwinds the series of escalating revelations that lead to the grim truth.

    When the mother of a boy at Henry's school is found murdered. Grace can't imagine why the police want to interview her. She wishes Jonathan were home so she could talk to him about it, but he'll be back from his conference in Cleveland tomorrow, right? She still doesn't quite get it when she finds his BlackBerry hidden in their bedroom, or when the school principal comments obliquely that the dead woman's son was on a scholarship "not set up through the usual channels."

    It wouldn't be fair to give away too much about the specifics that brutally tell Grace that Jonathan won't be coming home — at least not voluntarily. However, this is not a murder mystery; it's the story of a woman slowly realizing how much she has misjudged, and not just about her sociopathic husband. When Grace flees with Henry to the Connecticut summer house she inherited from her mother, it sets the stage for reassessment and renewal: "She felt as if some great pause button had been depressed when Jonathan stepped into her life, and only this instant had the finger come away and released her forward motion."

    The novel's pace slows, and its wrenching tension dissipates in the second half. There are several more big revelations, about Grace's parents and Jonathan's childhood, but they're part of a quieter drama as Grace accepts her own role in constructing a life based on lies. Refreshingly, Korelitz doesn't beat up Grace for her mistakes; she shows her learning from them and finding more solid ground. "I want to have a past to give to Henry," Grace tells her father. "I don't need it to be perfect, just to be real."

    Korelitz's gift for enfolding a woman's personal crisis within a sharply observed social context is as evident here as it was in her fine previous novel, "Admission" (later made into a less fine rom-com starring Tina Fey). Rural Connecticut provides the low-key atmosphere Grace and Henry need to recover — indeed, her son settles happily into a middle school and reveals a fondness for Japanese anime that had completely escaped her when she was busy trundling him to high-pressure violin lessons in Manhattan. Grace begins to rebuild her professional life in this new setting and is astonished to learn that her editor still intends to publish her book, complete with its now hideously ironic title (though she does want a new foreword).

    There's even a new romance in the works; Korelitz is a generous writer who wishes her heroine well. Readers who have followed Grace through the ordeal grippingly delineated in "You Should Have Known," will agree that she deserves her chastened happy ending.
    x

  • O Magazine

    You Should Have Known in O Magazine

    A provocative thriller.

  • Publishers Weekly

    You Should Have Known in Publishers Weekly

    This excellent literary mystery by the author of 2009’s Admission unfolds with authentic detail in a rarified contemporary Manhattan. Therapist Grace Reinhart Sachs is about to embark on a publicity blitz to promote her buzzed-about book on why relationships fail, You Should Have Known. In the meantime, she cares for her 12-year-old son, Henry, who attends the same private school she went to as a child. Grace also treasures her loving relationship with her longtime husband Jonathan, a pediatric cancer doctor at a prestigious hospital.
    ▼ Read more

    The novel’s first third offers readers an authoritative glimpse into the busy-but-leisurely lives of private-school moms. Grace does her best to get along with the school’s vapid and catty fundraising committee. She eventually learns that one of the mothers outside her social strata, Malaga Alves, was found murdered in her apartment by her young son. Grace, already tense and sad from these events, becomes more and more anxious as Jonathan, at a medical conference in the Midwest, proves unreachable over several days. The author deftly places the reader in Grace’s shoes by exploring her isolation, unease, and contempt for the rumor mill. 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.

  • Boston Globe

    You Should Have known in The Boston Globe

    Korelitz does not disappoint as she chronicles the emotional unraveling of her heroine in this gripping saga…A cut above your average who-is-this-stranger-in-my-marriage-bed novel, “You Should Have Known’’ transforms itself at certain moments from a highly effective thriller into a nuanced novel of family, heritage, identity, and nurture.

  • Vogue.com

    You Should Have Known in Vogue.com

    An unputdownably deft vivisection of Manhattan’s upper social strata.

  • People

    You Should Have Known in People

    This consuming, expertly plotted thriller moves along at a slow burn, building up to shocking revelations about Grace’s past and ending with a satisfying twist on her former relationship mantra; ‘doubt can be a gift’

  • NY Daily News

    You Should Have Known in NY Daily News

    A new literary mystery steeped in Manhattan, from "Admission" author Jean Hanff Korelitz, is a perfect brew for late winter.
    ▼ Read more

    “You Should Have Known” brings to mind an earlier book by Korelitz, the mercilessly taut suspense novel “The Sabbathday River.” It also taunts the “haves” for their naked drive to get more, particularly for their children.

    Grace Reinhart Sachs’ son, 12-year-old Henry, attends one of the elite private schools on the Upper East Side. But she sees herself as distinct from the other mothers awash in their husbands’ Wall Street money and completely devoted to their elite lifestyle.

    For one thing, Sachs attended the school, Reardon, as a child back in the days when a less-than-wealthy family could afford to live on East 81st St. and still afford a private education for their only child. Henry is one of the school’s legacy students, a tow-headed reminder of a vanished era.

    Sachs has a career as a couples’ therapist and is about to publish one of the buzziest books of the year, “You Should Have Known.” In it, she tells women in deteriorating relationships that they damn well knew the unhappy truth about the man they married from the outset but chose to ignore it.

    Sachs is supremely satisfied with her husband, Jonathan, a pediatric oncologist at Sloan Kettering, who can never do enough for his young patients or families. She’s living exactly the life she wants.

    But then a young mother of a student at Reardon, notable because she so obviously doesn’t have money or social connections, is found murdered in her apartment. The tragedy seems apart from Sachs’ life until her husband doesn’t come home.

    It turns out there was a great deal that Sachs should have known and will painfully become aware of as this absorbing novel flays Manhattan’s new money while inducing aching suspense.

  • Huffington Post

    You Should Have Known in Huffington Post

    When Her Patients Cry Over Men, She Tells Them, 'You Should Have Known.' And Then It's Her Turn.
    ▼ Read more

    The galleys were a 448-page slab. Not a happy prospect if you're the guy who screams (in vain) to publishers, "Give me your 400 page masterpiece, and I'll give you back a 300-page bestseller." Seriously. In almost any recent novel I can name, no one would miss a hundred pages.

    But the author of You Should Have Known is Jean Hanff Korelitz. Her last novel was Admission, which became a Tina Fey movie. She's the founder of the book club service, BooktheWriter.com. [Disclosure: I'm one of the writers. No book club has requested me yet.] My business partner loved the novel. So I plunged in.

    "Usually people cried when they came here for the first time..." We are in the office of Grace Reinhart Sachs, a therapist and, soon, an author with a surefire bestseller. Its title: You Should Have Known: Why Women Fail to Hear What the Men in Their Lives Are Telling Them.

    There is tough love, and then there is Grace Sachs therapy, which is merciless. "There is no victim," she tells her patients. Over and over, she says, she hears women describe their early interactions with their partner and their early impressions of him. And as they reminisce, she invariably thinks, "You knew right at the beginning... he's never going to stop looking at other women... he can't save money... he's contemptuous."

    That's just for openers. As a woman gets into a defective relationship, Grace believes, she kids herself that she's gotten to know him better -- she unlearns what she knows. Which is nuts. Women try on twenty pairs of shoes before they slap down their credit card. But they abandon their critical intelligence when they stumble into the path of an attractive man who's interested in them. Later, when he proves he's a jerk, they're actually surprised. They shouldn't be -- they should have known.

    This is, of course, not the therapist's fate. Oh, no. Grace's husband is a man she knew she'd marry the night she met him. And he's turned out to be a saint, a pediatric oncologist at Sloan-Kettering. They have a beautiful home, a fully functioning son. "His life, and her life, was a life of service to terribly unhappy people, carefully balanced by the precious, personal joy of family love and the modest enjoyment of comforts."

    The only glitch in her perfect life? The mothers at her son's private school, who toss off lines like "Simon said if I finished the half marathon at the beach, he'd take me to Paris." We have seen these women in many New York novels and Woody Allen movies. They're usually cliché or worse, caricature. At the first sign of a Birkin bag, I always ask: When did this book turn into satire? But writers love this stuff and editors don't cut it and readers lap it up; I'm the only naysayer. The good news: Korelitz makes these women credible -- and, in some ways, more human than the therapist with her doomsday theory of women.

    A murder? We didn't see that coming. Or the victim: a woman Grace knows, a mother from her son's school. Impossible. But there's another impossibility. We're on page 100 and although we've heard a great deal about Grace's husband, we haven't met him yet. He's at conferences. Obsessive about his patients. Dr. Busy.

    How can this be? You know how: Grace's understanding of her marriage and her man is bullshit. She has quite a lot to learn about her husband, and she's going to spend the rest of the book learning it -- and putting herself through the harsh, painful cure she used to prescribe. Yes, she too should have known.

    There's a lot of what felt to me like vamping in the middle of the book, because the reader is ahead of Grace. "This would cut like butter," I thought. Later, I realized the author was tightening the tension. She knew exactly what she was doing. I shouldn't say more; another breadcrumb would spoil your enjoyment of this extremely enjoyable novel.

    As a writer who has abandoned journalism for fiction, I was pleased to read how Jean Hanff Korelitz -- a therapist's daughter -- came to write a savvy psychological thriller. It's this:

    "Like many people, I'm fascinated by the fact that we willfully ignore things about the people we think we know best. I've seen so many intelligent women standing behind their politician husbands -- who have just revealed themselves to be adulterers or addicts or felons -- looking absolutely stunned. You ask yourself: 'How could she not have known?' I wondered how much more interesting it would be if the woman in question was supposedly an expert on human behavior, and highly capable of sensing subterfuge in her patients' spouses."

    How very much more interesting indeed.

  • Vanity Fair

    You Should Have Known in Vanity Fair

    Tempt the gods with smug self-righteousness and they will deliver a windfall of tragedy, as witness in Jean Hanff Korelitz’s rollickingly good literary thriller…Korelitz writes intimately and engagingly about a social strata few are privy to, but the ugliness is very familiar

  • RedBook

    You Should Have Known in Redbook

    Jean Hanff Korelitz’s fifth novel is a tightly-wound page-turner in which life-altering revelations unfold at a perfect pace, forcing its protagonist to face a series of ugly truths about the man she married.
    ▼ Read more

    Grace is a middle-aged wife and mother, a successful couples therapist, and a born-and-bred New Yorker. She adores her husband, Jonathan, a pediatric oncologist, and their 12-year-old son, Henry. She is about to publish a self-help book for women about identifying destructive relationship choices. In sum, Grace’s life is good, and, importantly for her, under control. As she puts it, she might not be gorgeous or decked out in designer duds, but she’s got her shit together—and that’s what she values most.

    That is, until said shit hits the fan and everything Grace has worked so hard to build and manage crumbles. It all starts with a murder in her son’s elite private school community, which leads her from one shocking discovery to the next, ultimately boiling down to the realization that she—a therapist who prides herself on giving her female clients tough love about choosing not to see the truth in deceitful men—doesn’t know her husband at all, and perhaps never did.

    They say the best suspense novels keep you up late at night, and I truly did lose sleep over this one. It’s not the first novel (or, incidentally, memoir) to explore extreme deception and betrayal in marriage, but it is an exceptional portrayal of a woman forced to examine the ways in which she has fooled herself about the most basic pillars of her life.

    The irony of Grace’s situation is not lost on her, and Hanff Korelitz delivers what could have become a heavy-handed rendering of severe psychological short-sightedness with a light, insightful, and empathetic touch. Grace has her humanity handed to her in the bluntest, most humbling way possible, and to watch her build something new, different, and real—even if it is rough around the edges—makes for a poignant and compelling reading experience.

  • Publishers Weekly

    You Should Have Known in Publishers Weekly

    This excellent literary mystery by the author of 2009’s Admission unfolds with authentic detail in a rarified contemporary Manhattan. Therapist Grace Reinhart Sachs is about to embark on a publicity blitz to promote her buzzed-about book on why relationships fail, You Should Have Known. In the meantime, she cares for her 12-year-old son, Henry, who attends the same private school she went to as a child. Grace also treasures her loving relationship with her longtime husband Jonathan, a pediatric cancer doctor at a prestigious hospital.
    ▼ Read more

    The novel’s first third offers readers an authoritative glimpse into the busy-but-leisurely lives of private-school moms. Grace does her best to get along with the school’s vapid and catty fundraising committee. She eventually learns that one of the mothers outside her social strata, Malaga Alves, was found murdered in her apartment by her young son. Grace, already tense and sad from these events, becomes more and more anxious as Jonathan, at a medical conference in the Midwest, proves unreachable over several days. The author deftly places the reader in Grace’s shoes by exploring her isolation, unease, and contempt for the rumor mill. 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.