book.review: people who knew me by kim hooper

people who knew me

This book is SO. GOOD. I really didn’t know what to expect going in and after reading a chapter of the novel, I opted to not re-read the description (too-spoilery, who wrote this?) and just let myself be surprised. I was so glad I did. New author Kim Hooper delivers her first novel entitled PEOPLE WHO KNEW ME and it’s heartbreakingly divine.

RELEASE DATE: May 2016

PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press

DISCLAIMER: Novel sent via NetGallery in exchange for a honest review.

SYNOPSIS: Everything was fine fourteen years after she left New York. Until suddenly, one day, it wasn’t. Emily Morris got her happily-ever-after earlier than most. Married at a young age to a man she loved passionately, she was building the life she always wanted. But when enormous stress threatened her marriage, Emily made some rash decisions. That’s when she fell in love with someone else. That’s when she got pregnant. Resolved to tell her husband of the affair and to leave him for the father of her child, Emily’s plans are thwarted when the world is suddenly split open on 9/11. It’s amid terrible tragedy that she finds her freedom, as she leaves New York City to start a new life. It’s not easy, but Emily—now Connie Prynne—forges a new happily-ever-after in California. But when a life-threatening diagnosis upends her life, she is forced to rethink her life for the good of her thirteen-year-old daughter. A riveting debut in which a woman must confront her own past in order to secure the future of her daughter, Kim Hooper’s People Who Knew Me asks: “What would you do?”

REVIEW: This book asks some important questions: if fate threw you a bone and gave you the chance to change your life, would you do it? Would you leave everything behind?

Emily met the love of her life next door – named Drew, he swept her off her feet the moment they met. Married young, hopelessly in love in Brooklyn and flat broke, Emily shelves her dream of further education to allow Drew to achieve his dream – becoming a chef. In the years that follow, Emily and Drew become a shell of the relationship they once had. With extended hardships being placed on the two of them, they eventually lead separately lives that take them in entirely different directions: Drew, to his mother’s place upstate and Emily, into the arms of another man. Then September 11 hits and Emily’s workplace is situated in the World Trade Centre. Her lover is now dead. Emily is given the opportunity to become a blank slate – leave it all behind and start over elsewhere. She takes it. Now years later, Emily is faced with a different battle … and a child she’s been raising on her own. When this new battle threatens to expose long dead secrets, Emily must rehash her own life for her own sake, and the sake of her daughter.

Honestly, what would you do? The universe hands you a blank slate – eliminates debt, an unwanted marriage, a boring life. You get the ability to start over on your own terms. What do you do?

That is at the center of this story and it’s a compelling question.

Emily is in one hell of a situation when this is brought upon her. September 11th had granted her an reprieve from a life she was trying to avoid. Hooper does an amazing job of building up the story line to that point so we truly see what this was Emily’s breaking point and how exceptional grief can warp our thoughts. Hooper builds this narrative piece by piece, establishing a foundational layer with her romance with Drew, building impossible marital problems with Drew, and then capping it off with an illicit romance with a coworker. When the towers come crashing down on September 11th, so does Emily’s walls and thus, where our story comes from. The narrative of this story is impeccable and I dare you not to read on into the night. With each chapter ending on a near cliff hanger, it’s impossible to put down.

The characters are compelling and stand apart in this novel. The character of Emily is deeply flawed (who uses a national tragedy for gain?) and perfectly constructed. We get insight into each and every action she undertakes in this novel. She makes this story and it’s so hard to comprehend that both points of view (Emily before and Emily after) are the same person. It’s evident that has time and tragedy has changed her and Hooper plays this so well. Secondary characters of Emily’s husband and lover also offer good perspectives into Emily’s life and are written quite well.

My one and only gripe? This novel ending! I wanted so much more. I had so many questions that remained unsolved. I wanted so many answers. I wanted to know the next step. I wanted to know the other side! I was so caught up in this novel that I was absolutely devastated when it ended.

Overall, a must read for 2016.

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