Study Guide

You Should Have Known Chapter One: You Just Know

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

Chapter One: You Just Know

In this edition of the book, Chapter 1 is pages 3-28

  • Usually people cried when they came here for the first time, and this girl looked as if she'd be no exception" (1.3). On that judgy and slightly ominous note, we're introduced to the mind of our protagonist, Grace Reinhart Sachs. 
  • Grace is a therapist, and she imagines how the decor in her office would look to somebody entering for the first time. It's intentionally "comfortable but not particularly inviting, warm without troubling individuality, decorated with things so familiar they commonly resonated" (1.4). 
  • By the way, the "girl" she was judging is Rebecca Wynne, a reporter from Vogue, who's come to interview Grace about her new book.  
  • Grace considers how surreal her new author life is, thinking about her agent Sarabeth, editor Maud, and publicist J. Colton. 
  • Sarabeth is convinced Grace's book will "snag the Zeitgeist" (1.7). Ooh la la. Grace's book is also titled You Should Have Known—what a coincidence.
  • She remembers her writing process and how the words seemed to appear before she was even fully conscious of what she was saying.  
  • Korelitz is reeeallly laying that foreshadowing on thick here. 
  • Rebecca starts the interview and Grace adopts her "therapist voice," answering questions in article-friendly soundbites. 
  • Rebecca asks if Grace came up with the title, and Grace says her original idea was Attention Must Be Paid, but her editors said it was too literary (1.11). 
  • It's also written in passive voice and not very catchy, but sure, we'll go with the snobbish "nobody will understand your oh-so-educated Arthur Miller reference” excuse. 
  • The thesis of Grace's book is that every relationship has warning signs, so if you aren't paying attention, you'll make a bad decision and then your future unhappiness will be your own fault.  
  • Grace's big bombshell is that this error in judgment may be irreparable. Some of her clients are in such irreversible situations that she feels she can only offer them "garbage bags and Windex to clean up an oil spill" (1.13). She must be a great therapist. 
  • She adds that women tell themselves stories about their partners, essentially marrying fictional characters. People should choose partners more like they choose a pair of shoes or a carpet installation company. Super romantic. 
  • Rebecca notes that Grace herself is married and asks her about her husband—Jonathan, a pediatric oncologist—and son—Henry, a 12-year-old violinist. 
  • The Vogue photographer, Ron, arrives, and starts scouting locations for a photo shoot. Grace heads to the bathroom to fix her makeup, only to realize she really has no idea how to get glammed up for a photo shoot. Girl, same. 
  • She does her best, the Vogue team asks her to wear her hair down, and the photo shoot begins. 
  • When he hears she's written a book on marriage, Ron tells Grace how he fell in love with his wife at first sight. 
  • Debbie Downer (a.k.a. Grace) says she thinks there are lots of potential matches for people, but they're so committed to the idea of love at first sight that they miss people they don't respond to. 
  • IRONY ALERT: Grace recalls that she also fell in love with Jonathan at first sight. Hmmm. 
  • As Ron moves in for closeups, Grace remembers taking pictures of her family, and the photo shoot ends.