Recently, a friend and I decided we wanted to start a book club to share our love of reading and to be able to get together with friends. After adding different people to the group, we picked out different books and voted to see which one we would read that month. The selection for the month was People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper. It isn't my usual type of read, but it wasn't completely far from the realm of something I would choose either. I am so glad this was the book that was selected because it pulled me in from the very first sentence.
|(Credit: Kelsey Darling)|
Five Sentence Summary
Emily found her happily ever after when she was in college, a man named Drew Morris.While the first few years of their relationship and marriage are blissful, soon, their lives are filled with issues that Emily didn't see coming and she begins to wonder if her marriage will be able to withstand everything. When 9/11 happens, Emily sees her chance to escape, so she runs away to California and becomes Connie Prynne. Connie is a single mother to Claire who works at a bar. When Connie is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, she is forced to relive her life as Emily and tell Claire who she really is.
What I Liked
- The first sentence is the type of first sentence that all books are jealous of. It pulls you in and makes you wonder where it is going to go, how did we get here.
"The people who knew me think I'm dead." (p.1)
- The book alternates time frames between Emily's life and Connie's life, giving you a wonderful picture of why and how Emily got to where she is, never giving you too much information before it is time.
- Lots of Emily/Connie's thoughts are similar to ones I have had, at least when she is in a sarcastic mood.
- Connie's battle with cancer is a moving one. I do not know anyone personally who has battled cancer, so I do not know how accurate the depiction of it is, but I have to believe it is somewhat true.
- Emily chose her new name, Connie Prynne, because those are the names of her two favorite literary characters: Connie Chatterley from Lady Chatterley's Lovers and Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter. That is 100% something I would do.
What I Didn't Like
- I always have issues with cheating. I understand how it makes an interesting story line, but I feel like Hooper glorifies it. Because Emily is so unhappy in her marriage but can't leave without hurting her husband and because he is never around, it is okay that she has a full on relationship with another man.
Emily's character bothers me. She blames her mother-in-laws failing health for the issues with her husband. She is not brave enough to tell her husband what she wants, what she needs from him. She bitches about him and her mother-in-law to friends, but never actually tells him until she reaches a breaking point, in which it is too late. I can't fault her for it. I have no clue how I would feel if I were going through it, and it makes for an amazing story. But I see so many damaged and broken marriages, it just kills me to read about one with such a natural affair.
I do feel incredibly sad that Gabe dies. I don't know what would have become of them if he hadn't died, seeing as the baby wasn't his but Drew's, and then there is the old saying of "If they cheat with you they'll cheat on you." Maybe they were always supposed to be together and that's why they ended up back in each others lives. And his fictional death makes me think of all of the real deaths that occurred that day. Listening to the part of the book where Emily is watching the terror unfold on the news takes me back to the day and what I remember of it. Yes, I was in the 5th grade and thousands of miles from it, but everyone in America and across the world was effected in some way that day. The office where Gabe and Emily worked was on the 101st floor, so I would hope that Gabe's death would have been quick.
As for Emily using this as her chance to escape, I honestly don't know how I feel about it. There have been times where I wondered what would happen if I just picked up and left, changed my name and never looked back. I have never been so lost in life that I thought about it for more than a minute, but Emily was extremely lost, and I understand why she did it, but I don't know if it was right or wrong.
Connie's character makes me sad. Connie has spent the last 14 years raising and protecting Claire from her past, only inviting few people into her life so that she does not make connections she may have to break again one day, and doesn't want to disappoint more people. Connie just wants to be the best mother possible; give Claire everything she never had and more. When Connie is diagnosed with the rare form of breast cancer, you, the reader, know that everything really is about to come crashing down.
"It was just a few weeks ago that I was thinking about the upcoming anniversary of 9/11 and how I could finally relax in this life that still feels new. It's been fourteen years, I told myself....But I can't, because the universe, or whatever it is that keeps track of these things, seized that moment to say Silly Connie, or Emily or whoever you are, did you really think it would be that easy? See, last week, everything changed. Last week, the universe decided the karmic equilibrium had been off for too long. Last week, my doctor said, "It could be cancer." (p. 11)
This whole book deals with karmic equilibrium and "what if" situations. Emily/Connie asks herself "what if" all of the time. What if she had gone to work that day? What if she had told Gabe she was leaving Drew? What if she had stayed with Drew? What if she hadn't run away? All of those questions just start a whole other Sliding Door effect that sends you down the rabbit hole. But like she said, the karmic equilibrium had been off for too long. I do believe that everything equals out in the end, that everyone gets back what they put out, and this book shows you just that.
Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction