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You Knew Me When

You Knew Me When

4.0 9
by Emily Liebert

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Best friends forever…until life got in the way.

Katherine Hill left her small New England hometown in pursuit of a dream. Now, twelve years later, she’s a high-powered cosmetics executive in Manhattan and a much glossier version of her former self, unrecognizable to her family and old friends. Not that she would know—she hasn’t been


Best friends forever…until life got in the way.

Katherine Hill left her small New England hometown in pursuit of a dream. Now, twelve years later, she’s a high-powered cosmetics executive in Manhattan and a much glossier version of her former self, unrecognizable to her family and old friends. Not that she would know—she hasn’t been home in over a decade.

Laney Marten always swore she’d never get “stuck” in Manchester, Vermont. No, she was destined to live out her glamorous big-city dreams. Instead, she wound up a young wife and mother. That was when her best friend ran out.

When Katherine receives word of an inheritance from former neighbor Luella Hancock, she reluctantly returns home to the people and places she left behind. Hoping for a second chance, she’s met by an unforgiving Laney, her former best friend. And there’s someone else who’s moved on without her—someone she once loved.

Tethered to their shared inheritance of Luella’s sprawling Victorian mansion, Katherine and Laney are forced to address their long-standing grudges. Through this, they come to understand that while life has taken them in different directions, ultimately the bonds of friendship and sisterhood still bind them together. But are some wounds too old and deep to mend?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A wonderful book for anyone who has ever longed for an old friend or dreamed of returning home after what feels like forever." ---Kerry Kennedy

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


Click, click, click. Her sandals rattled against the pave­ment, ten toes pinched and bonded by silvery strips of crisscrossed leather, iridescent in the oppressive sunshine. She squinted at her mother ten paces ahead, fi­nally slowing down as they approached the corner. Click,  click, click. The bulky red truck careened around the bend, pointing its bulbous nose at the diminutive green sedan  hurtling through the intersection. Click, click, click.  The shrill cry of a passerby. Her mother’s body soaring through the air, limbs flailing like a marionette.

Katherine jolted upright, her creamy white sheets slick with sweat. She inhaled the bittersweet smell of lavender and perspiration; slid her smooth, tanned legs over the edge of the bed; and walked toward the bathroom determinedly. Surveying her reflection in the mirror, she grimaced at each new wrinkle and splashed cold water on her face. Her work­out gear, which she’d arranged neatly on her makeup chair the night before, confronted her. Predictably, she met the challenge.

It was only six a.m., but light was already peeking through the sheer, billowing curtains garnishing the floor-to-ceiling windows in her personal gym, affording the treadmill a godly presence. “A spacious guest bedroom,” the Realtor had dubbed the clean space with pristine white walls and dark hardwood floors. A gym, Katherine had thought, nod­ding politely. She skimmed the channels on her flat screen, scanning e-mails on her iPhone with the other hand. Half the world had been doing business for hours, and she couldn’t help but feel breathlessly behind every morning as soon as she woke up. There was always a launch in London or Paris or China, and people depended on Katherine’s directives. Sometimes when she couldn’t sleep in the early-morning hours, she’d ease her insomnia with an hour on her laptop. Just a little leverage over her fellow cosmetics executives who dared to get a full night’s sleep.

“Shit,” she sighed dramatically after reading a new e-mail. One of the VPs in her department had failed to sign off on ad copy, and now the head of advertising, waiting for his six thirty a.m. flight out of JFK, was pissed. Why was it always so fucking difficult to get people to do things the right way at the right time? Katherine increased her speed to a sprint. Two-minute intervals for every five minutes of jogging. Every morning, in sickness and in health. Her rela­tionship with the treadmill may have been her most suc­cessful to date.

She set her phone down and raised the volume on the TV. Matt Lauer was interviewing a morose-looking Karrie Kashman, who—despite the headline “Another Failed Marriage”—had managed to pour herself into a searing-red Herve Leger bandage dress.

“Fifty-eight days. A full two weeks less than last time.” Matt shook his head and leaned toward her sympa­thetically. From anyone else it would have come off as a reprimand.

“Yeah.” Her glassy eyes were comforted by the longest pair of fake lashes Katherine had ever seen. She’d have to ask her assistant to find out the brand.

“Where is Kurtis now?” Matt prodded, as a photo of Kar­rie’s estranged media mogul husband flashed on the screen.

“I’m not sure.” Karrie sniffled.

“I know this is hard for you.” But I’m just getting started. Karrie nodded. “Is there a chance of reconciliation in the future?”

“No.” Karrie was unwavering. “But my sisters and I have a lot going on, like the launch of our sixth perfume, and our new line of kids’ clothing for Target.” Katherine upped the incline on the treadmill, pumping her arms to the beat of Karrie’s PR pitch. That a girl.

“And this isn’t your first divorce—not even your sec­ond,” he reminded, in case it had slipped her mind.

“No.” She gazed longingly at nothing. Poor Karrie wasn’t exactly on her A game.

“Something to think about.” Matt turned to the camera. “We’ll be back with more on Karrie’s devastating third di­vorce in a few minutes.”

The rest of the interview was a bloodbath. After the com­mercial break, Karrie had promptly disintegrated into a heap of heavy makeup and designer duds, no doubt leaving her entourage withering in the wings. Most people couldn’t put their finger on the public’s fascination with the Kash­man clan, but Katherine knew. It was obvious, really. Not only did you want to be them, but also you were them. There was Karrie’s sister Kleo at a movie premiere, looking flaw­less in some dress you’d never own. And there she was the next day, fleeing the room as her drunken baby daddy smashed his fist into a mirror. And that you could relate to.

Sure, Katherine was an executive at one of the top cos­metics companies in the world, a thought leader in the way of brand marketing, but still she had to admit that the Kash­mans had mastered the art of spinning grass into gold. Pretty grass, sure. Plump-assed grass, absolutely. Still grass, though.

Karrie had worn Blend Cosmetics on more than one oc­casion. She’d even tweeted about their pomegranate cheek stain, which had promptly sold out in every store across the globe. And now Katherine was in talks with Karrie and her sisters to become faces for the brand. Some of the male execs had scoffed at the idea, feeling particularly smug when the whole divorce debacle had reared its ugly head again, but Katherine hadn’t flinched. The divorce would be old news within two weeks’ time and, if anything, it had only ampli­fied her popularity. Nothing like a practiced pout to sell lip gloss.

Katherine sprinted for the last five minutes of her workout, running through the day’s schedule at the same time. She’d be at her desk by eight fifteen, which would give her forty-five minutes to go through the rest of her unanswered e-mails and tie up any loose ends. She had back-to-back meetings un­til two, when she’d return to her office to play catch-up until at least five. She’d need to sit down with her assistant at the end of the day to regroup, and then it was back to unreturned e-mails and departmental issues that only she could address. There was probably an event or two tonight where she could swoop in, swap air kisses, schmooze, and treat herself to a glass of champagne before heading home by eleven to once again conquer the breeding e-mails that lived in her in-box around the clock. And maybe catch a late rerun of The Real Housewives of Somewhere or Other.

She spent the next hour playing out the same meticulous routine as every other morning. It no longer took careful at­tention, much less effort. She could shower, straighten her glossy, shoulder-length black hair, and line her piercing green eyes while composing a speech for next week’s board meeting and keeping up on her e-mails, her phone affixed to one hand, a hot iron in the other, with nary a singed strand.

Coiffed to perfection, she strode through the lobby, oblivi­ous to the lavish holiday decorations already up the week before Thanksgiving. Click, click, click. Her heels punished the marble floor. There was a plump Christmas tree adorned with silver and white ornaments—no tinsel on the Upper East Side, thank you. A small menorah sat on the window­sill, a nod to the many Jewish residents of 1152 Park Avenue, who still preferred the tree. Wreaths dressed the tops of the elevators—front, back, and service. But Katherine bypassed it all, staring down at her iPhone, her fingers dancing the quickstep on the keyboard. Click, click, click.

“Good morning, Ms. Hill.” Her doorman, Roberto, rushed around from behind his desk. She nodded and smiled, but not in his direction. “Taxi?” She nodded again, striding through the open door, which miraculously gave way as she approached. Click, click, click.

And then she stopped, awareness returning in that mo­ment only. But always in that moment. She stood back from the curb until the cab had come to a full stop.

After all, accidents did happen. Even twenty-three years later.


“Coffee.” Laney padded into the kitchen in her tat­tered bathrobe and fluffy pink slippers, her wild blond curls raging.

“The Twisted Sister look really works for you.” Rick smiled and grabbed his wife around the waist, burying his nose in the side of her neck.

“Funny. Coffee.” She pulled a bowl from the cabinet, filled it with Cheerios, and poured milk over the precarious heap. Stray Cheerios trickled onto the floor, and Laney scooped them up with her spoon and into her mouth.

“Classy,” he laughed.

“We’ll be friends when you share some of that black stuff. You know, with the caffeine.” Rick reached across the table and emptied the pot into her mug. Laney had never been a morning person. Even as a baby, she’d slept in until nine most mornings. It was one of her mother’s all-time favorite stories. That and a million others. She clasped her hands around the warmth, inhaled the delicious aroma, and sipped. Three more gulps and she’d be legitimately awake.

“What’s on the agenda today?” Rick cut into his waffle, wielding a large bite on his fork. Maple syrup oozed down his chin.

“Classy.” She laughed. “Oh, you know. Same old fun.” Laney had been working at Oasis, a day spa in Manchester, since a year after graduating from the University of Ver­mont. She’d started as a receptionist, and eleven years later she was running the joint. She loved the work, just not the domineering boss. “Massages, facials, verbal abuse.”

Tina, the owner, was a gangly, gaunt woman with a pinched nose, angular jaw, buglike eyes, and a permanent scowl on her pallid face. Her husband had purchased the spa four years ago as a gift to her—perhaps intended as more of a diversion—and overnight Laney’s job had plum­meted from heaven to hell. Gone were the days of Bob and Francine, the sweet elderly couple who’d opened its doors three decades ago and treated her like their daughter, extol­ling every decision she made. In many ways it had been like Oasis was hers.

“Just tell the bitch to screw herself.”

“Nice, Dad.” Their twelve-year-old daughter, Gemma, swaggered into the room dressed in dark-washed skinny jeans, a fitted purple V-neck sweater, and tall motorcycle boots. Apparently, they were in at the moment. Until they were not.

“Oh. My. God.” Laney looked up, alert for this first time. “Is it Tammy Faye Day at school?”

“Who’s Tammy Faye?” Gemma opened the refrigerator, as if breakfast was a meal she’d deign to eat.

“She’s the only person in the world who’s had more makeup on her face than you. Wash it off.” Laney pointed her thumb over her shoulder, motioning in the direction of the bathroom.

“But, Mo-om!” Hands on hips.

“But, Gem-ma!” Laney mimicked.

“You’re being beyond ridiculous. I wear makeup ev­ery day.”

“Okay, well, today you’re looking a bit more tranny than preteen, and it’s not flying. Rick?” Laney broadened her hazy blue eyes at her husband, who was never much help in the discipline department. Fortunately, Gemma had been an easy child. She still was, really. It was hard to believe Laney and Rick had been only ten years older than Gemma was now when they’d become parents.

“What your mother says. Sausage?” He pointed a link at his wife and daughter, who both scrunched their perfect noses.

“Dad,” she sighed in protest.

“Go on.” He shrugged his shoulders and pulled a face in Laney’s direction while her head was down, prompting Gemma to giggle like the twelve-year-old girl she was.

“We’re leaving here in fifteen minutes. I can’t be late to­day.” Laney shoveled the last bite of cereal into her mouth and stood to clear their plates.

“I got it, sweetie.” Rick jumped up. “You go tame that mop.”

“You live for this mop.” She slapped his arm.

“Yes. Yes, I do.”

Laney was wrong. There were, in fact, girls with more makeup on their faces than both Gemma and Tammy Faye. Put together. There were also girls dressed in shirts cut so low you could practically see their shoes. Even worse, there were boys who were interested; their shredded jeans cinched mid-ass in order to properly showcase their plaid boxer shorts. Was that attractive to her daughter? Her beau­tiful, smart, good-head-on-her-shoulders daughter?

“It looks like his pants are falling off.” Laney tested the waters. She didn’t want to be that mom, but really? It seemed so impractical. Not to mention chilly.

“Tacky.” Gemma glanced out the window. She’d been preoccupied with her Droid—no doubt updating her Face-book status: “Gemma Marten is in the car with her very un­cool mom”—for the length of the five-minute ride. The Droid had been a Valentine’s Day present from Rick, who’d had a particularly good year in the construction business. People weren’t necessarily buying houses during the reces­sion, but they were adding on to their existing ones. Laney had received a pair of diamond studs. Small, but still dia­mond. Rick had received a blow job.

“Totally,” Laney agreed straight-faced, but bursting with pride on the inside. Gemma reached for the door handle. “Eh-hem.”

“Embarrassing.” Yet she leaned over and kissed her mother on the cheek. Laney noticed Gemma’s makeup bag shoved into her purse. She’d probably head directly to the girls’ bathroom and reapply everything Laney had made her wash off.

“Do you need a ride home?” Laney had convinced Tina to let her take her lunch break at three thirty on the days when Gemma couldn’t carpool with a friend. It hadn’t been an easy negotiation. It never was.

“Nope. I’ll hitch with Hillary.” She was already out the door, calling over her shoulder, same blond curls as Laney’s own whipping violently in the wind. Laney was still young enough to remember the profound humiliation of slipping out of her mother’s beat-up Oldsmobile before anyone she knew could spot her.

“Okay. Love you!” Laney called out as the car door slammed. “Love you too, Mom. Have I told you lately how completely awesome you are?” she sing-songed, as if some­one were listening.

Laney pulled out of the school parking lot, her cell phone trilling from inside her purse. “Where are you!?” Tina’s voice screeched as soon as Laney answered.

“I’ll be there in five minutes, Tina. It’s only twenty after.” Laney heard her huff.

“This place is a mess.” Tina could barely complete a sen­tence without stressing something. You are so late. That woman is a complete witch. I am just sick to my stomach. When Laney and Rick were in particularly silly moods, they took great pleasure in reenacting their version of Tina’s sex talk. You are so big, Laney would start. I just have to lick your nipples, Rick would counter. Not before I mount you like a horse. And on and on until they’d thoroughly grossed themselves out. Mr. Tina was a rich man, but not a terribly attractive one, and his ever-expanding paunch was so not hot.

“What’s a mess?” Laney had been the last one to leave the previous evening, as she always was. And the place had been spotless, as per Tina’s obsessive-compulsive guidelines.

“Well, there are loose papers all over the desk, for one.” Laney could make out the muffled sounds of shuffling and crinkling. She cringed.

“Tina, those are bills. I left them stacked on the desk be­cause you need to pay them.” And I left them stacked in a per­fect fucking pile.

“All right, all right.” One thing Tina didn’t like to talk about was money. Who knew why, since it just materialized whenever she needed it. “Just get here so we can have this place in order before our first appointment.”

“On my way.” Laney clicked off and threw the phone into her cup holder. “AAAAGGGHH!” She wasn’t sure how much longer she could take it.

Maybe there was only so much happiness to go around for each person and she’d filled her quota with Rick and Gemma. Long-term professional contentedness was apparently more than her fair share.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"A wonderful book for anyone who has ever longed for an old friend or dreamed of returning home after what feels like forever."  —Kerry Kennedy

Meet the Author

Emily Liebert is the award-winning author of Facebook Fairytales and You Knew Me When. She is also the editor of the New York Times bestseller Being Catholic Now by Kerry Kennedy. Emily has appeared on The Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, FOX News, Oprah Radio, and Martha Stewart Radio. She lives in Westport, Connecticut, with her family.

Erin Bennett is an award-winning, Los Angeles-based voice actress whose passion for storytelling informs her love of narrating audiobooks. An AudioFile Earphones Award winner, she has recorded titles in a wide array of genres. Her voice-over work spans animation, radio plays for the BBC, video games, and commercials.

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You Knew Me When 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Andreat78 More than 1 year ago
** 3.5 stars ** After several years away, I've been in a notion to read more Women's Fiction lately. As much as I love a good romance, and you know I do, sometimes I want a story that focuses on the story of a woman searching, stumbling, finding. A story that may include a man at some point, but doesn't truly focus on winning him, but winning back something that's been missing. In You Knew Me When, we not only get the story of one woman searching, but two. Laney and Kitty were the best of friends for many years, closer than sisters. We quickly learn that the two are estranged, but it's not clear why. The demeanor of the two, the amount of uncomfortable tension lets you know that whatever happened was brutal and even twelve years later, neither is over it. I could relate to the characters and their situation, way too well. You Knew Me When is told in both the present and the past, with the flashbacks beginning when Kitty and Laney met and ending when they lost their friendship. I really enjoyed the flashbacks, maybe because these two are about the same age as me, so I loved the pop culture references to music, television, clothes, and yes, "The Rachel". [Sidenote, for those of you who know, or even wore The Rachel, like me, I love you. For those who don't, google it.]I also think I enjoyed the past narrative more because it was in first person, which helped me connect to the characters better. The present narrative was in third person, which doesn't bother me if I can still feel the connection to the characters. In this though, I almost felt as if I was being "told" what was happening and how the characters felt, versus just being able to experience it. As I mentioned earlier, whatever tore Laney and Kitty apart seemed to have been fairly devastating, so of course I spent the entire book waiting, and feeling the tension build. When I finally got there, though, I wasn't blown away. Don't get me wrong, it was a worthy reason, but I feel as if the delivery was rushed a bit. We spent the whole story building, and then.... I liked You Knew Me When, and I did feel an affinity to the characters. I love when an author doesn't make one person the "bad guy", but relies on life or circumstance getting in the way. I know this will be a story in which many women will see pieces of themselves and pasts.
Gabbyi08 More than 1 year ago
What a great read. I enjoyed this book very much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first book by Emily, and it definitely will not be my last! I loved “You Knew Me When” and found it hard to put down-- as grabs you from the cover, and never lets you down throughout- to the ending. An ideal setting of Vermont and New York and could imagine the love within these three homes side by side in the neighborhood years ago. The author does an outstanding job of looking at each individual character in order for the reader to see all sides. The characters were nicely developed (loved Katherine), and as could so relate to her in every way, and thought Laney (brat, small minded, and very immature). I happen to be the one who left for the big city, and family or friends sometimes do not understand if they live in the same place throughout their lives. I was excited for Kitty/Katherine and glad she took this path in order to get where she wanted to be in the end. I really enjoyed Emily’s writing style, disclosing just enough to keep you hanging from Kitty’s childhood, teen years, to her NY successful career with Blend --seamlessly blending past with present. I very much enjoyed the character Luella, as it added much depth to the novel, as could envision her as glamorous, sophisticated, and the ideal role model for Kitty/Katherine. A poignant story of friendship and the struggles of sacrificing yourself for your friends, or staying true to your heart to do the right thing. Realistic choices, challenges, and obstacles we face when we leave our friends, as not everyone is the same, each with different goals and journeys. Both girls are sent on a different journey which was fitting for their individual personalities. Sometimes it takes moving away and maturity to make dreams come true. As the two friends come together with their shared inheritance (Luella’s Victorian mansion), they are forced to address their past and differences. I loved the beauty, fashion, cosmetics and style—with three different generations of women and families, reminiscent of childhood days. A novel of relationships, the bonds of friendships and family, redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, and starting over. Definitely shows friendships can be closer than family at times and the power of true BFFs. An engaging read, I highly recommend for women of all ages. I look forward to reading Facebook Fairytales, and her new booking coming Sept, 2014-- “When we Fall”. Emily has been added to my favorite author list --definitely a talented writer you will want to follow!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written book. I think we all have that one person in our life that things didn't turn out how we had once hoped...
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
YOU KNEW ME WHEN by Emily Liebert is an interesting Chic-Lit/Women's Fiction. Debut author Emily Liebert has written an interesting tale of love,lost,grief,friendship,forgiveness,healing and going home. If you have ever longed for a true friendship,an old friend or going home than YOU KNEW ME WHEN is definitely the story for you to read. Well written with characters who are realistic,engaging and will challenge your heart. The storyline is interesting as well as captivating. If you long for a sisterhood,and the theory that best friends are forever, or until life gets in the way, whichever comes first, than you will not regret picking up this title for it is all about friendship,bonds,sisterhood and the bonds that holds them together. Some bonds can not be broken. Well written. If you enjoy Chic-Lit,Women's Fiction and a good read than "You Knew Me When" is the story for you. An enjoyable read! Received for an honest review from the publisher. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: Mild REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Review courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Kitty Hill and her father moved to Manchester, Vermont in the 1990s after they lost Kitty’s mother.  It was just the right thing as Kitty quickly realized when she met a young girl exactly her age, Laney Marten, who lived two doors away from Kitty’s new home.  In between lived a single woman, Luella Hancock, who also became a wise, loving presence in Kitty’s life and who allowed the girls to swim in her pool, eat her food, and just visit.  Her home was their home.  Kitty and Laney immediately bond as best friends, “sisters” as they quickly realized.  Reading of how their friendship forms and deepens is delightful and how seamlessly Luella shares their lives as well.  But when Kitty falls in love, that all changes so quickly that it seems their bond is irrevocably broken until years later a second chance is given to them by Luella! In between the missing years, Kitty has become a high-powered executive at a Manhattan, New York cosmetics company.  She’s a definite Type A personality who works around the clock, rarely sleeps more than a few hours, and has forgotten all about Laney and Luella in that small New England town.  But she is quite shocked to receive a letter with a message that forces her to return to Vermont and interact with Laney.  It initially isn’t pretty at all as caustic barbs and nasty comments fly, with each trying to either avoid or hurt each other.  Little by little, however, they learn to connect again but it’s a long, arduous journey at times.  As difficult as it seems, Emily Liebert knows exactly where to insert fluctuate scenes that forebode disaster one minute and hope the next.  Ironically, it’s not unbearable at all to read; in fact, it’s mesmerizing and the reader is rooting for a positive outcome, never sure where it will all unwind or mesh together. You Knew Me When: A Novel is a novel about the often-heard phrase, “forgive and forget.” So many words have been written about others in which one will claim it’s impossible to do both, others who claim one can do only one, and others who say one can choose to do both.  Katherine’s journey leads her to discover the blend of Kitty and Katherine she is meant to be, and Laney realizes one can focus on dreams and betrayal of same that one totally misses what could really be even better than the original, ideal vision for the future. This is a wonderfully constructed novel that will astonish, fascinate, and grip readers to every page.  The characters are vividly portrayed and interact with such dynamic dialogue that you won’t want to put the book down.  There’s an additional feature about style in dresses, jewelry and cosmetics that is unique in its own way that will appeal both to those who love beauty and style and those who’ve never quite given much attention to it.  Most of all, it’s about what it takes to mutually heal in a relationship, without any tragic drama.  A sense of humor and openness to the meaning of love in real, everyday situations is vital and Liebert masterfully presents the perfect blend. This reviewer loved this novel and highly, highly recommends it to everyone!  
jbarr5 More than 1 year ago
You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert Book starts out with Katherine who is an ad executive-high end. Laney runs a day spa=a gift from her husband Rick. The girls both live on either side of Luella. She loved having the girls just drop in to play cards or go for a swim as we learn of their earlier years together. Now that Luella has passed away and left the house and everything in it to them. There are stipulations that will force them back together again if they are to sell it... The story alternates from the past to the present and you learn what broke them all up. Grant and Kitty were an item at one time and Kitty and Laney were like sisters. Luella was the glue that kept them all together. Loved the scenes of dress up with the jewelry-I can't even imagine doing this! As time goes on decisions have been made and it destroys them all but they have a second chance to get it right... I received this book from Edelweiss by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago