Study Guide

You Should Have Known Chapter Seventeen: Suspension of Disbelief

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

Chapter Seventeen: Suspension of Disbelief

In this edition of the book, Chapter 17 is pages 284-299.

  • Grace is amazed how easy it is to "disassemble her life" (17.284).  
  • She buys a used Honda, visits the mall to pick up some warm clothes, gets Henry an anthology of sports writing at the grocery store, buys some firewood, and gets a space heater. 
  • With the errands complete, Grace surveys the house. Nothing feels connected to her right now.  
  • She doesn't know how long they'll be there—"until the nuclear winter ended and somebody (who?) gave the all-clear" (17.286). 
  • The house doesn't have WiFi, so she goes to the library and signs up for half-hour time slots to email everyone important in their lives.  
  • Most of Grace's patients don't respond, but Lisa writes her a sweet message saying she hopes everything works out for her. Aww. 
  • Rearden principal Robert says Henry is welcome back any time. 
  • Grace's dad is incredibly relieved to hear from her but has too many questions.  
  • Henry's violin teacher lectures her on how inconvenienced he is by Henry's absence and how much Henry's musical talents will suffer without him. 
  • Grace realizes he must not watch the news and wishes everyone else were more like him.  
  • During most of these email sessions, Grace has to fight the urge to look up what's going on in NYC. She reminds herself Mendoza will call if they find anything. 
  • Back at the house, Grace unplugs the ancient wall phone after somebody calls for her. 
  • Grace is very worried that some reporter will track them down. 
  • We also learn Jonathan withdrew $20,000 from their bank account the day Malaga was killed.  
  • Grace recognizes it's a privilege to be able to "afford not to care much about money" (17.291)  
  • Sometimes she goes outside to smoke after Henry falls asleep, revisiting an old habit she gave up the night she met Jonathan.
    • Now, inhaling and then watching the white smoke rise, she felt as if some great Pause button had been depressed when Jonathan stepped into her life, and only this instant had the finger come away and released her forward motion, and suddenly she was back at precisely that earlier moment, a college student again, with most of the big decisions and the big events still before her. Though this time she had been issued with a child and a nominal profession. And a book about to be published. Or so it had been when she'd left the city (17.291-292).
  • Speaking of her book, her publishing team (Sarabeth, Maud, and J. Colton) is calling her incessantly and she isn't answering. She assumes that most of her publicity appearances have been canceled. "Who would want to be counseled by a woman in her situation, J has stolen, lied, abandoned his wife in a scorched earth of incalculable...well, not pain exactly" (17.292). She feels numb. Grace reminisces about meeting Jonathan again.
    • She went back to her apartment and finished her final pack of cigarettes, thinking about Jonathan and what he wanted to do with his life.
    • She hadn't told him she smoked, but it didn't matter because everything that mattered began that night.
    • She wonders if that makes her a liar too. (Our survey says no.)
  • She recognizes that she made a mistake, and now her whole life has changed forever.On Christmas Eve, Grace wakes up realizing she's totally unprepared. Like any last-minute shopper, she heads to the mall to find gifts. She gets a ton of books and DVDs at the bookstore. She checks out the relationship section, which reminds her of how she got the idea for her book.
    • She never meant to suggest that it was the woman's fault for doing anything wrong in the marriage, but those women chose wrong.
    • She started writing a manifesto about the state of her profession. So many therapists won't tell their patients what seems obvious to them.
    • "And if you didn't know, you should have known, because it could not have been clearer, even back then at the very start" (17.296).
  • Grace realizes how rich this all sounds coming from her now. 
  • On her way home, she runs into a neighbor, Leo Holland. He reminds her that this has always been his family's lake house and "we used to drive your mom crazy" (17.297). 
  • Grace totally remembers this. 
  • Leo's on sabbatical—he's trying to finish a book and wanted to get away. He asks if her house is winterized. 
  • Grace says it's not, but they're doing okay. 
  • She notices that Leo has a crooked smile, as all charming men in novels do. 
  • She tells Leo she needs to get back to her son, who's home alone. 
  • "Well, if he's there now, he's not alone. There's a car parked on the road. I just walked past" (17.298).  
  • Grace excuses herself. Leo understands and invites them both over dinner some time. 
  • Grace is worried that a reporter found them and is asking Henry questions he's not ready to hear. 
  • She's also terrified it could be Jonathan.  
  • When she sees the car, she's extremely relieved.  
  • "Grace's father, unexpectedly and against all logic, appeared to have arrived for Christmas" (17.299).