Title: People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 305 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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, People Who Knew Me asks: “What would you do?”
People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper is a captivating novel about a woman who must face the mistakes from her past after receiving an unexpected diagnosis.
No one is more surprised than Emily (aka Connie) when she falls in love with Drew at first sight. The college sweethearts marry young and although both plan to continue on to graduate school, Emily goes to work right away while Drew continues his education and later opens a restaurant that soon goes bankrupt. The family’s sole breadwinner, Emily is waiting for Drew to begin working when his mother’s health worsens and he must become her caretaker. Emily’s resentment continues to grow as she tries to be understanding but after reconnecting with old college friend Gabe Walters, she makes one bad decision after another. When her world is shattered on 9/11, Emily uses the tragedy to leave New York and her marriage behind but fourteen years later, she must confront the past she has tried so hard to forget.
Emily/Connie is a surprisingly likable and sympathetic character despite her poor choices. Deeply in love with Drew, her marriage slowly crumbles under the stress of financial concerns, her husband’s drinking and her mother-in-law’s health problems. As she and Drew drift apart both emotionally and physically, she grows more and more resentful of the situation and it is only a matter of time before she acts on her attraction to Gabe. A shocking discovery gives her the impetus to finally break free from her unhappy marriage, but before Emily can act on her decision, the events of 9/11 forever change her life.
Following 9/11, Emily reinvents herself as Connie and moves to California where she leads a solitary life as a single mom. Daughter Claire is refreshingly happy and well-adjusted and even after Connie receives a distressing diagnosis, mom and daughter remain close. While Connie is optimistic about the final outcome of her treatment, she is also realistic and she knows it is only a matter of time before she must be honest with Claire about her past. Claire is completely unprepared for her mother’s shocking revelations and their once close relationship is threatened in the aftermath of Connie’s confession. With her future so uncertain, Connie has no choice but to face her mistakes for Claire’s sake.
Seamlessly moving between past and present, People Who Knew Me is a compelling novel that is impossible to put down. The characters are fully developed with all too real flaws and imperfections. While the novel is well-written with a unique storyline, the ending is rather abrupt and a little frustrating since not all of the loose ends are completely wrapped up. All in all a solid debut from Kim Hooper that I truly enjoyed and highly recommend.