“You Should Have Known” is a pleasant and shocking surprise from Rebecca A. Keller. She might be familiar to some of you for her art and this is her debut book. As she has mentioned in the preface, she wanted to write a book that explores what might push a morally-upright person to carry out a deplorable act. Needless to say, she has done what she set out to do and then some.
The story is narrated in the first person, through the voice of Frannie Greene, a retired nurse, who is forced to go and live in Ridgewood Assisted Living Center after a bad fall. Her son, Charlie, and daughter, Iris, who convinced her to do it, also strive to do everything possible to make the change easy and comfortable for her. Despite her unwillingness to accept the limitations of growing older, Frannie slowly begins to start enjoying her life there and she forms friendships.
As fate would have it, Frannie recognizes the husband of one of her closest friends as the man she holds responsible for the death of her granddaughter, Bethany (Iris’s daughter). This realization sparks a fire in her and makes her contemplate doing heinous acts. It does not help that Iris still hasn’t recovered from Bethany’s loss. Thus begins Frannie’s journey into a chaotic mixture of revenge, forgiveness, absolution and culpability that blurs the lines of morality.
Keller has an excellent writing style; the narrative is straightforward and exceedingly crisp. Her characterization is so deep that I was hooked on Frannie almost from the beginning. Keller has done an outstanding job of drawing us into her world, giving time and thought into allowing us to understand these people’s physical, mental and psychological states. This is the most empathetic portrayal of an older character I have ever read so far.
There is a small element of ‘whodunit,’ that keeps the story going, though the inner battle that consumes Frannie is the spine of the story and it was the most interesting part of the book for me.
I can’t recommend this book enough for everyone; particularly to those people who like to read stories with depth and insight into its characters and their circumstances.
An outstanding debut by an author who you should watch out for!
This book gets 5 out 5 stars.
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