Forget You Know Me begins like a thriller. Liza is on a video call with her life-long best friend Molly, a desperately needed catch-up after a too-long hiatus. Liza has moved to Chicago and these two who have been in each other’s pockets since childhood have been out of touch. They hardly begin when Molly’s daughter cries for Mommy and Molly takes a moment to tend to her. The call was still connected, so when a masked intruder enters the room, Liza sees him and tells him she is calling the police.
Molly’s response was cold and secretive, so Liza wonders if the intruder is holding her hostage, threatening the children maybe. She immediately drives to Cincinnati to learn the truth. So, you might think this is a thriller, but you would be wrong.
Jessica Strawser’s Forget You Know Me is in many ways similar to her earlier Not That I Could Tell. You start the book thinking it is a suspense novel and finish thinking it is about friendships and marriage. That worked well enough with the first book, but with this one, I felt cheated.
It was bad enough that the introduction promises one kind of book and another is delivered, but this time not one person was someone I really cared about. Well, not true. Liza’s friend Max seems like a good guy, though suspiciously devoted to Liza. Liza’s brother and future sister-in-law seem nice enough, too. The kids are pretty decent. Every other person, though, is unlikable through combinations of self-indulgence, cowardice, and lack of compassion.
Molly suffers from chronic pain. Her husband Daniel is tired of it. Also, he’s doing a half-assed job at work and didn’t catch some problems soon enough, so that has made more trouble for him. The longer he says nothing, the worse the problems get. Molly feels defensive about the burden on her pain on her family. She pursues every quacktastic offer she can find, spending money she doesn’t have. The longer she says nothing, the worse the problems get. The thing is, that is the book over and over and over. People just won’t do the work of honest relationships and then feel baffled their relationships suffer.
I think Strawser is skilled at writing realistic people who are nuanced and understandable. However, this is the second time I have felt her book was a bit of a bait and switch. I need to remember that she writes contemporary stories about relationships, friendships, and marriages and not expect suspense. Then I won’t feel so disappointed.
Forget You Know Me comes out February 5th. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.