Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
THIS I KNOW, Eldonna Edwards’ debut novel, will be published by Kensington Books/John Scognamiglio Book on April 24, 2018. It is a coming of age novel about an extraordinary teenage girl named Grace Carter. The novel is set in the late 1960s, early 1970s in a small town in Michigan.
On the outside, Grace appears to be like all of the other little girls in her small town. She lives with her parents, and is the middle child of five daughters. On the inside, Grace is very different not only from her sisters, but from just about everyone else. Grace has a very special ability that she calls The Knowing. This intuition allows her to read other people’s thoughts (but only if they allow it) and see things that others cannot. It also allows her to speak with Isaac, her twin brother who died at birth. Grace believes that The Knowing is a gift from God. Her family is aware of her ability, but they are not accepting. Her sisters mock her, and her father repeatedly tries to convince her that this is the work of the Devil and that she must stop using her ability. The only family member who really accepts Grace’s ability is her Aunt Pearl. Pearl urges Grace to continue to use her gift regardless of who accepts it and who doesn’t. Unfortunately, only a few of the people in the small town accept Grace – coming to her only when they want something. Throughout the novel, Grace battles with herself (and her family) over whether she should ignore or gift or if she should use her gift to help people.
THIS I KNOW is a very interesting novel. Grace is a likeable protagonist, and it’s interesting to watch her grow and mature throughout the novel. She is a kind and caring girl, and it’s sad that so few accept her and her special ability. That being said, Grace lives in a small town where just about everyone is deeply religious. Grace’s father is an Evangelical preacher, and she spends a lot of time in the church. Unfortunately for Grace, her father has never bonded with her in the way that he has bonded with his other children. Henry Carter blames Grace for not being a boy, and also for her living while her twin, Isaac, died at birth. In my opinion, Henry Carter is a despicable, unredeemable character. Rarely have I hated a character as much as him. And he sure doesn’t practice what he preaches. Henry is judgmental and unaccepting not only of his daughter, but of just about anyone who doesn’t belong to his church. Henry is so unaccepting of Grace’s gift that punishes her, frequently accuses her of practicing witchcraft, tells her she mocking God by using her intuition, and then forces Grace to suffer through an exorcism in a scene that almost made me stop reading the novel. Perhaps because I’ve known people like Henry, and been friends with people who grew up in households similar to Grace’s, that played a role in shaping my thoroughly negative opinion of him.
Overall, I did enjoy THIS I KNOW. It’s a well written novel with intriguing characters. Throughout the novel, I was cheering for Grace. I wanted her to overcome all of her doubts and the people who refused to accept her gift. I wanted Grace to continue using The Knowing to help her family and the other people in her small town. Aside from my dislike of Henry Carter, I felt that some of the storylines just petered out without any real resolution.