There are so many things I liked about this book! I'd been wanting to read it for so long and I was not disappointed at all. If you haven't yet read this book, don't worry, I haven't given anything away in my review.
NO ONE YOU KNOW is the story of Ellie Enderlin, a coffee buyer living in San Fransisco, who has never been able to come to terms with the murder of her older sister, Lila, twenty years earlier. Lila was a brilliant mathematician studying at Stanford with a promising future ahead of her when she was brutally murdered and left in the woods. There were few clues for the police to follow and since Lila led such a private life, it was nearly impossible to comprehend who would do this to her.
Ellie, who was also in college when her sister was killed, didn't share the gift of genius her sister had and also had no idea the direction her life would take her. With her parents basically shutting down after the murder, Ellie began a friendship with her literature professor, Andrew Thorpe. Over a matter of months, Ellie shared things with Professor Thorpe she never thought she'd share with anyone. She felt lucky to have found such a friend that she could bare her soul to.
Eighteen months after the murder, Ellie and her family were devastated to learn that this man who had been invited into their home and had witnessed their grief first hand, was writing a book about Lila's murder. Ellie, feeling completely responsible, begged Thorpe not to publish the book, to no avail. This act by a person she trusted, left Ellie feeling even more unsure of herself and her future. But Thorpe took the story one step further and actually named a person in Lila's life as the murderer, even though he had never been charged. The book became a best seller and it was very easy for the public to believe what Thorpe wrote.
Twenty years later, while on a coffee buying trip to Nicaragua, Ellie runs into the man she always assumed had killed her sister. This chance meeting brings back all of the questions and feelings that were buried inside her. In the years since the murder, she began to see herself as the flailing and troubled sister of the murdered genius - exactly how Thorpe portrayed her in his now famous book. Those labels molded Ellie's life and even she began to believe that was who she was.
Like I mentioned earlier, there are several things I enjoyed about this wonderful book. Most importantly for me, the storyline was fantastic. I love stories about sisters and I felt the relationship between Ellie and Lila was so believable and original. Believe me, it is completely possible for two sisters to be polar opposites yet share a bond. Michelle Richmond's writing made the story even better. Even though this is a mystery, there were no cliff-hangers or nail biting moments, only perfect prose that allowed the story to unfold as if you were living it right alongside Ellie. As she tells the story and relives memories of times she and her sister shared, you get to know Lila, even though she was already dead when the story began.
Richmond's characters also make this book stand out. The fact that some of them are flawed is what lends believability to it. Through Ellie's memories, I was left with a very vivid picture of who Lila was. And even though Professor Thorpe was not such a nice guy, I found myself feeling sorry for him yet dispising him other times. She did a wonderful job of taking a range of personalities and creating a truly believable story.
I also loved that the story took place in San Fransisco. Having never been to this city, it was almost like being on a tour. I realize now that it is a place I definitely want to visit. Making Ellie a coffee bean buyer was a great idea as well! I LOVE coffee and it was so interesting learning a little about that process too. (I even jotted down certain things and Googled them to find out more. - I know, I'm such a geek!) Even though I suck at math, I still managed to enjoy the mathematical side of the story. All of these reasons I've mentioned are why I loved this book so much.
Michelle Richmond is also the author of The New York Times Best Seller, THE YEAR OF FOG, which I have sitting on my shelf waiting for me. I have no doubt I will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed NO ONE YOU KNOW. Ms. Richmond's website is full of information, including reading group guides for book clubs, excerpts from the book and opportunities to purchase signed copies along with the latest news on her writing career. In case you couldn't tell, NO ONE YOU KNOW is easily one of my favorites books!
Author: Michelle Richmond
Authors Website: www.michellerichmond.com
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Published: June 2008
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommend!!!)