Study Guide

You Should Have Known Attention

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

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Attention is a double-edged sword in You Should Have Known. On one hand, attention is good when you're staying aware of potential roadblocks and warning signs in your relationships, at least in Grace's mind. She even suggested Attention Must Be Paid, an homage to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, as an alternate title for her book. On the other hand, Grace hates how much attention the media gives to Malaga's murder—especially when the news breaks that her own husband is implicated. She up-ends her entire life to escape to the lake house with Henry, far away from the media's attention.

Questions About Attention

  1. Did you notice any warning signs in Grace and Jonathan's relationship before she paid attention to them?
  2. Why does Grace say she wanted to use this quote from Death of a Salesman as a potential title for her book?
  3. In a city as large as New York, does the frenzied media coverage of one woman's murder seem realistic?

Chew on This

While the intense media scrutiny of Malaga's murder heightens tension in the book and gives Grace a reason to leave NYC, the news coverage also seems so unbelievable that it detracts from the story as a whole.

Interestingly, the quote Grace references from Death of a Salesman actually encourages a character to look past his father's flaws and see the good in him...which is pretty much the polar opposite of Grace's thesis.

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