Book Review: You Should Have Known

you should have knownCan you really miss all the signs, even if you’re looking for them?

Therapist Grace Reinhart Sachs makes her living telling people where they’ve gone wrong. She believes that there’s always a moment, usually early in the relationship, when you can see the truth about the other person – a truth you then “forget,” burying it in excuses and desires. In fact, Grace has written a book on the subject, called You Should Have Known.

Her own life seems to hold up under scrutiny: she has a loving marriage, a wonderful son. (She’s also materialistic and judgmental and clearly unaware of just how good she has it, but that’s a whole other thing.)

Then a woman Grace knows only vaguely is murdered, and her perfect husband has disappeared. As her life begins to unravel, Grace keeps asking herself: should she have known?

Unfortunately, it’s not a question the book really answers. (Mild spoilers to follow.)

If there were signs at the beginning of the relationship, Grace doesn’t recognize them. The few concrete examples of her husband’s lies (missing days during his residency, an accident at the hospital) are honestly not significant enough to set off warning bells – especially in the context of an established relationship. If you’re married to a psychopath – and the book comes right out and says that’s what he is – you’d expect a larger unraveling than he had a bunch of mistresses and he shut out his family of origin. And – yeah, I get that the perspective is Grace’s, but I’d have liked more information about the husband – especially why he’d suddenly brutally murder one of his lovers.

Ultimately, You Should Have Known is gripping and interesting, but leaves more questions than it answers.