“When people get themselves into a hole,
other people like to watch them try to get out.”
Susanne Enright – age 42, is an accomplished sculptor turned college art instructor. Susanne’s husband, Gil has squandered their nest-egg in an ill-advised investment. Now his business is floundering. As a way of paying him back for his betrayal of her, she has an affair with one of her graduate students.
Martin Willett – a twenty-four year old, black, mixed-race art student and accomplished artist. He was one of very few people of colour living in this predominantly white upstate New York town. Greatly attracted to his instructor, Susanne Enright, he is more than receptive to her advances. They have an affair.
When Susanne’s daughter is murdered, Martin is pointed out by a witness and is framed by the power-hungry, racist, police-chief.
Harper Grove – is Joy Enright’s best friend, or she was… Friends since they were in pre-school, Joy now seems distant and has a new clique of friends. Unsavory friends. Harper is the youngest child of a dysfunctional family. She has a penchant for baking.
When Joy is murdered, Harper is interviewed by the police and finds herself lying in her witness statement for reasons that make sense only to her.
Tom Carbone – is married to Alison, who just happens to be the daughter of the interim police-chief. He runs a convenience store once owned by his late father. Also, he works as an ‘on-call’ rescue diver. After Alison has several miscarriages, Tom knows that his marriage is crumbling…. The fact that Alison is a closet alcoholic and a real ‘Daddy’s girl’ doesn’t bode well for Tom’s future.
The Victim, Joy Enright – the teenage daughter of Susanne and Gil. Bright and extremely artistically talented, Joy dreams of one day attending a prestigious (and expensive) art school. When her father loses his savings, she realizes that those dreams will come to naught. Also, she learns that her mother, with whom she was once very close, is having an affair with a black graduate student.
Who killed Joy Enright?
A few years ago I read this author’s “Lacy Eye” which I thoroughly enjoyed. For this reason I was confident I would like this book – and I wasn’t disappointed.
I really like Jessica Treadway’s writing style. She writes at a steady pace with fully fleshed-out characters that makes the reader invested in their plight and interested in how events will pan out. She seems to have an innate understanding of human nature, encompassing strengths and weaknesses, talents and character flaws, vices and self doubts, decisions and consequences.
With themes of parenting, substance abuse, justice, racism, blackmail, guilt, and loss, this novel will be favored by many readers. It eloquently asks the age old question “Can you really ever know another person?” Also, it explores the many secrets inherent in most small towns – as they serve as a microcosm of society as a whole. It explores the idea that one event can be interpreted many different ways according to the viewers perspective.
If you haven’t yet tried this author, then I would highly recommend you do so. This was a book that will probably make my ‘Best Reads of 2019’ list. An entertaining and thought-provoking character-study with a poignant conclusion.
I received a complimentary digital copy of “How Will I Know You” from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley in consideration of my providing a candid review.
Jessica Treadway is a native of Albany, New York. Her story collection Please Come Back to Me received the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She is also the author of And Give You Peace, which was named as one of Booklist ‘s Top 10 Debut Novels of the Year, and the collection Absent Without Leave and Other Stories. Her stories have appeared in the Atlantic, Hudson Review, Ploughshares, and Five Points, among other literary journals.
A professor at Emerson College in Boston, she lives with her husband in Lexington, Massachusetts.