Editorial note: I received a copy of More Than You’ll Ever Know in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez is one of the best novels I’ve read in years. A must-read, order now and read immediately-type novel!
To be honest, my reading year so far has been a bit up and down. Some strong highlights for sure but I’ve been disappointed with some reads as well. I hadn’t really had that “can’t/don’t put this down” type read this year until More Than You’ll Ever Know. Wow, this book!
There are some books that have the addictive quality—where you’re constantly thinking about the characters and what will happen next. A story that truly takes you to another time and place while at the same time allows for reflection and makes you wonder what you would do if you were one of the characters. More Than You’ll Ever Know is that novel and more.
I don’t often re-read novels but I found myself going back to certain passages and also re-reading the ending as well. This is a rich story full of many layers. There’s no true villain but rather people making decisions, oftentimes selfish ones, and the repercussions of which will last for generations.
What’s the Story About
The story follows two women: Cassie Bowman, an aspiring true-crime writer and Lore Rivera, a woman caught leading a double life after one husband murders the other. We learn about how Lore marries Andres Russo in Mexico City, even though she is already married to Fabian Rivera in Laredo, Texas, and they share twin sons. Lore lives this double life until the truth is revealed and one husband is arrested for murdering the other.
In 2017, Cassie finds Lore’s story as she hunts down true-crime stories for a blog she manages. She instantly intrigued and wonders what’s the real story behind Lore’s decision to risk everything for a double marriage. Cassie tracks down Lore in an effort to tell Lore’s truth and also to provide a much needed boost to her career. In doing so, Cassie starts to question everything about the murder along with realizing she might have more in common with Lore than she cares to admit.
The story switches back and forth from Cassie’s perspective in 2017 to Lore’s in 1985. And while the story is very much focused on Lore, Cassie is hiding plenty of secrets too.
The Two Women
The publisher pitches the story as a literary suspense and this might become my new favorite genre if more novels are in the vein of More Than You’ll Ever Know! It’s suspenseful in the sense where you’re wondering what’s the truth and what really happened that day of the murder but it’s very much literary-style writing and quite introspective.
I was captivated by both Lore and Cassie’s stories. With Lore, I kept thinking, why would she marry Andres? How did she think she wouldn’t get caught? And all the questions are answered and more.
The affair begins in a seemingly ‘traditional’ way—she’s not feeling seen at home by her husband, Fabian. Her children are teenagers and don’t need her the way they did before. And before that, Lore felt she lost a lot of previous identity with becoming a mother. Everyone almost dismisses Lore as another mother but she has her own desires and aspirations and above all—she wants to be seen for her.
Andres give her this opportunity. But in hiding the truth about Fabian and the twins, she’s shielding a big part of her identity—whether she will admit to that or not.
With Cassie, she’s an aspiring journalist, with a huge obsession with true-crime. This stems from watching Dateline with her mother. (I always enjoy a Dateline reference; Keith Morrison forever). But she’s looking for her big break and believes Lore’s story will do the trick.
Cassie is quite complicated in many ways and I can’t go too much into detail to avoid spoilers but she makes some shocking decisions. And like I said, might have more in common with Lore than meets the eye.
It also brings up the complicated nature of true crime reporting and how it become very tricky, especially when journalists take the role of investigator too.
The Two Settings
I just want to give a moment of recognition that the novel does not take place in New York. I will say publishing is better about this but wow, for a while, it felt like ever single novel took place in New York. Don’t get me wrong, I really like New York! But there’s a whole big country, entire world, and those stories need to be told as well.
I loved that this took place both in Laredo, Texas and Mexico City. Also, random facts, but there’s some scenes in Enid, Oklahoma, too. I’m actually from Norman, Oklahoma (there’s even a Sooners reference in this story!) and also lived outside of San Antonio, Texas for a couple years so I was especially interested in those aspects as well. The novel also features Spanglish and really paints a picture of life in Laredo and Mexico City.
In her author’s note, Katie talked about when she started to set stories in South Texas, “a place I used to think didn’t belong in literature because I never saw it there. I gave my characters familiar names, let them speak Spanglish when it suited them. I grew convinced that not only do Mexican Americans belong in literature, we make it better. I’m grateful to those who came before me and showed me the joy of seeing parts of my world reflected back.”
A big yes, please! We need more stories set in locations like these with diverse protagonists.
This novel is incredible. There’s so much to discuss and even debate, making it the ideal book club read. I was so swept up in the story, the characters, the setting and more. Katie tackles motherhood in a way I’ve haven’t really read before—very much focused on a mother’s identity. But also from the perspective of a daughter and sister as well.
Five huge stars to More Than You’ll Ever Know. For book clubs, check out my discussion questions here.