Book Review: The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

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Goodreads Synopsis: Ravine and Marianne were best friends. They practised handstands together, raced slugs, and looked up at the stars and imagined their own constellations. And then, one day, Marianne disappeared.

Ten years later, Ravine lies in a bed in her mother’s council flat, plagued by chronic pain syndrome, writing down the things she remembers. As her words fill page after page, she begins to understand that the only way to conquer her pain is to confront the horrors of her past.

Heartbreaking, seductive and utterly unforgettable, The Things We Thought We Knew is a rich and powerful novel about the things we remember and the things we wish we could forget.

Author: Mahsuda Snaith

Title: The Things We Thought We Knew

Publisher: Doubleday

Date: 2017

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I couldn’t say no to an ARC of The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith. I’ll admit it; it was the cover. It is so beautiful that it instantly caught my eye and my attention was piqued – I wanted to give it a go.

As soon as I discovered what the book was about, however, I became more intrigued. I know people who suffer from chronic pain. I myself have to deal with some horrible headaches, although I know they aren’t in the same league. To have a main character who deals with that would be a great insight for those of us who may not understand what they have to deal with, triggering empathy and understanding.

At least, that was my hope. It didn’t quite pan out that way as the main character finds her pain receding early on in the book.

`Memories pretend to leave you but they’re always there. Always ready to catch you off guard, to remind you that life is never as simple as what you happen to be dealing with at the time.

There is always the past, waiting to pounce.`

I found Ravine quite a hard character to like. She is scared of the outside world – understandable. She has dealt with chronic pain for years – ouch. But she also hides from her problems, and even when she feels better, lies to those around her, including her mother, so she doesn’t have to move on with her life.

I couldn’t relate to this. I know when I have a day with no headache, it makes me determined to make the most of it. Not hide away. I couldn’t connect to her character initially, so it took me a little while to get into the novel.

In the end, however, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The majority of the story is told through flash-backs as Ravine writes down her childhood memories of her best friend. The reader is led to believe this friend has vanished, possibly moving away with no forwarding address.

The reader understands something darker is going on through the snippets revealed, even if they are in the wrong order. Ravine talks about things as they pop into her head, not the order they happen. The reader knows something occurred, just not how it came about.

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For me, it worked. I remained intrigued and gripped throughout the story, and didn’t guess what was coming. Snaith has a charming writing style that drew me in, demonstrating the child-like innocence of the young Ravine and the complex emotions the older Ravine must deal with.

I have to admit, I found the plot had strong similarities with The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon. The final conclusion and the way the story unfolds, with hints here and there, is extremely similar.

The main difference, however, is that I enjoyed The Things We Thought We Knew. I like Snaith’s writing style, I grew to like the characters and I found the backstory a tale of childhood friendship and the things children will go through with one another.

If you’re looking for a light read with some thoughtful themes weaved through it, then I would definitely recommend this book. I only wished that Ravine didn’t lie to everyone throughout the book!

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

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