People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper

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“Whenever women run, they’re running away from something,” she said .”Every time I see a woman jogging , I pity her. I want to stop her and have a heart to heart with her and ask, What the hell are you running from?”
Well maybe her mother-in-law was on to something in Emily/Connie’s case.
This was strange. I did not sympathize with Emily’s life changing (and somewhat cruel, in my thinking) decision, though I believe People Who Knew Me gives an unflinching glimpse into the resentment, frustration and stress put upon a marriage when a couple becomes caregivers. It’s no mystery to me that people caring for the ill long term have a tendency to become sick themselves over time. Stress is a killer of health and relationships. In sickness and health is easy to speak, but what if the sickness comes in the form of an in-law? Does that count? Do you have to stay? What do you do when the man you love is becoming miserable and losing the joyful light that made you love him? How can you voice your needs when you’re meant to put yourself aside because ‘someone needs us’?
What bothered me? Not the affair, that wasn’t shocking, a woman hungry for love and attention, you can moralize til the cows come home or pigs fly but it won’t change neediness. Slipping off an identity (in a cowardly manner) and leaving behind loved ones, now that’s a different thing altogether. It was a very punishing choice to make. Did Drew deserve that? It was wrong on so many levels. It’s not as though this is a woman escaping an abusive husband (I think I’d have much more empathy in that situation). There is still a seed of selfishness in her choice to ‘confront her past’ in the end too.
We could say she was in shock from losing happiness she finally found, or couldn’t stomach going back to a life she was ready to abandon, either way it’s a novel worthy of conversation. Readers can wonder what they would do, but I had a hard time feeling sorry for her because all I could imagine is Drew left behind sick with grief. This is hard to review without giving everything away… sigh… enjoyed it, even if I wanted to shake Emily/Connie.

St. Martins Press

Publication date May 24, 2016

 

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