By the time I was a few pages into You Knew Me When (NAL) I was rolling my eyes and close to throwing in the towel. It just seemed that there was not much new in Emily Liebert’s (Facebook Fairytales) debut novel and it just felt as though I’d been down this particular fictional road before.
Having committed to reviewing the book, I persevered and I’m glad to report: first impressions aren’t always right. Though (especially in the beginning) it often feels as though You Knew Me When is treading familiar ground, Liebert’s warmth and skill draws you in and you realize that at least part of the reason so much of this story resonates on a personal level is that Liebert has tapped emotions and even experiences that many of us share. For a lot of us, that’s enough of a reason to read on.
Katherine Hill and Laney Marten were best friends as teens. Sisters, almost. But a dozen years have passed since Katherine left their shared hometown in Vermont for a life in Manhattan where she has become a successful cosmetics company executive.
Though Laney had big dreams, too, her life took different turns. She married young and started a family, but she hasen’t forgotten that her best friend bailed on her when she most needed her and the intervening years haven’t softened the grudge she bears her old friend. When Katherine returns to town claim an inheritance Laney and her are to share, the town finds the citified girl completely changed.
You see the part where all of this feels familiar, right? But Liebert tells her story compellingly and draws her characters so very well. Still have a bit of beach time to squeeze out of this summer? You Knew Me When would make for a terrific seaside companion. ◊
Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.