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What to Read: More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon

It was after dinner at my grandma's house, and I was in the living room with the men, as is my wont. My mom called me into the dining room, where she sat around the table with my dad's sisters: "Jess, what was the name of that book, the one we both read that was so scary? You had to sleep with the lights on."

I had no idea what book she was talking about, so I said, "I have no idea what you're talking about." She offered a few more vague descriptors, and, finally, it all came together: I shuddered with the memory.

I couldn't remember the title. I couldn't remember the author. But I could remember being chilled to my bones and moved to tears.

The next day, I was driving back home, trying to work back to the name of that book, or the authors's name—anything that would help me find it again. I was on the Ohio Turnpike, a few miles out of Toledo, when it hit me: Gutcheon. Beth Gutcheon.

My mom was talking about More Than You Know, a strange, surprising, utterly bewitching novel. The opening lines are, "Somebody said, 'True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.' I've seen both, and I don't know how to tell you which is worse." All I can say about that is: Damn.

Here's the plot: One youthful summer, Hannah Gray is charmed by Conari Crocker and menaced by a a ghoulish apparition—a restless, bitter, tragic tangle of passions and a grotesque inversion of Hannah and Connie's budding romance.

Gutcheon's prose is magnificent: She is equally adept at depicting incandescent young love and creating scenes of bottomless terror. I've thought about this book often since I first read it. As soon as I found it again, I bought a bunch of used copies to give to my aunts and my mom, and I can hardly wait to read it again myself.

February 12, 2004 | Permalink


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