Book Den Reviews: “Things I Should Have Known”

The complex storyline and multiple love triangles in “Things I Should Have Known” not only made the book unputdownable, it made the plot more enticing and gave the characters more depth.

“Things I Should Have Known” by Claire LaZebnik had me hooked from the first chapter. The protagonist, Claire, narrated in such a way that everything she said seemed completely relatable. Her dry, sarcastic humor reflected what high schoolers typically surround themselves with and made for an overall easy read. The plot on the other hand had quite a few twists and turns, with a multitude of characters which could make for a confusing read for any readers who don’t often pick up books with more than a few main characters.

The book centers around Chloe and her autistic sister Ivy. When Chloe goes on a mission to find the perfect match for Ivy, she steers in the direction of Ethan, a boy in Ivy’s class that seems to have an interest in Ivy. Soon, though, Chloe finds out Ethan’s older brother is actually one of the most intolerable people in the school, David; still, this minor setback does not stop Chloe from attempting to make a perfect match for Ivy. Chloe and David suffer through each other’s company for the sake of their siblings, but as Ivy reveals a major realization she sends each of the characters spiraling.

I never realized how many characters I could learn to love and hate in one novel. One of the many great things about “Things I Should Have Known” centers around LaZebnik’s inclusion of a multitude of characters. This large “cast” made everything seem more realistic for the reader. In a lot of novels today, certain characters can just disappear when they turn into an inconvenience, but return as soon as they become necessary again. In this novel no character ever goes uncalled for, even when characters find themselves home alone, they have some way to account for the other people living with them, and the mention of secondary characters makes the main character’s social lives seem more realistic. These minute details of simply mentioning minor characters or suddenly texting someone that has not been mentioned in a few chapters makes it easier to immerse myself in the book since I did not constantly stop and say “that would never happen in real life” or think “what happened to this guy?”

Chloe’s role, while important, did not strike me as the most important. She played a role in both love triangles that took place in the book and she had character development and conflicts of her own, but the true story seemed to center around Ivy. I always thought about what would happen if someone wrote a superhero’s story from the sidekick’s point of view. How interesting would the story still seem without the main protagonists thoughts and emotions? With LaZebnik’s talent as a writer, the answer is ‘yes.’ Chloe’s point of view made the story relatable and fun, but she was not telling her own life story, she told the story of Ivy and Ethan and David. Chloe appeared as somewhat of a side character to Ivy, since she definitely saw a bit more character development. Do not get me wrong, Chloe’s story still intrigued me and still added to the progression of the plot, but without Batman, there would be no Robin, without Captain America there would be no Bucky, without Ivy, there would be no Chloe.

LaZebnik makes statement novels, ones that linger with the reader and eat at them with questions of “what about after the book ends?” She creates so much depth and emotion in 311 pages that the reader grows attached. If I could ask for just one thing to change about this book, I would want it longer.

Thank you Cypress Creek Book Club, publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books and author Claire LaZebnik for giving us the opportunity to receive early-review books.

“Things I Should Have Known” will be released March 2017.