- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (October 14, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062517287
- ISBN-13: 978-0062517289
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,175,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Things I Know Best: A Novel Paperback – October 14, 2003
See the Best Books of 2018
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“A lovely book.” (Malachy McCourt, author of Singing My Him Song)
“Hinton is a wise and elegant storyteller...a book to be savored and treasured. (Robert Inman, author of Dairy Queen Days)
“A wise and deeply moving story .The language of this novel soars and lifts one’s spirit with it.” (Joan Medlicott, author of The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love and The Gardens of Covington)
About the Author
A retreat leader and writing teacher, Lynne Hinton is the author of numerous novels including Pie Town, Wedding Cake, Christmas Cake, Friendship Cake, Hope Springs, and Forever Friends. She also writes a mystery series under the name Jackie Lynn. She lives in New Mexico.
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 57%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Showing 1-8 of 11 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
That isn't to say it's a dark book; rather, it's a quiet book, and perhaps closer to its author's heart. When she wrote it, Hinton was a United Church of Christ pastor. In an interview on her website, she says that she believes the issue of race relations is the most important one we can resolve today. That issue is central to this book, which tells two interracial stories: one about eighteen-year-old Tessa Ivy of Pleasant Cross, North Carolina, who has a relationship with a boy of mixed race, and one about her mother and her mother's relationship with her best friend, an African-American woman, which is soured for reasons no one will discuss.
Tessa comes from three generations of "Ivy women" who believe they "see things" --- Tessa herself reads tea leaves and interprets dreams. Of course, no one's "knowing," as the Ivy family calls it, has led any of the women to great fortune, although Mama Bertie does use her gift to help the local funeral director keep his schedule straight. They live in a trailer park, and Tessa works at the local supercenter. Much of the background of Tessa's family is revealed during the women's dinner preparation (one is best at cooking meat, another vegetables and a third takes pride in side dishes).
Tessa says, "I suppose it would seem to any ordinary person that Knowing would make the women in our family rich or smart or at the very least well respected; but the truth is the Knowing hasn't given us anything extra. It seems, in fact, to have created a curse. All the Ivy women lean towards making bad decisions, especially when it comes to money and men. And just as we have accepted the ways we all Know, we also have accepted each other's poor choices in husbands and fathers for our children."
THINGS I KNOW BEST concerns Tessa's newly adult attempts to figure out how to make different choices for herself. When the enigmatic and devout Reverend Renfrew comes to town in his Airstream trailer, towing his son Sterling, Tessa finds out that there are things she couldn't possibly "know." Some of those are deeply sad and frightening, others are wonderfully joyful --- but above all, they're true and worth knowing, as opposed to "knowing." Or, as Tessa's grandmother says, "A body could know everything there is to know about the future, but that don't guarantee happiness." Neither will reading this book --- but it's worth a peek.
--- Reviewed by Bethanne Kelly Patrick
Told from the standpoint of Tessa, a deceptively simple young woman of 18, the story of the Ivy women, their secrets, loves and heartaches, resonates in the beautiful North Carolina setting. The Ivy women have "the Knowing"..that psychic phenomena that seems to drift in and out of families of southern women. It is that gift, so seldom used by Tessa, that ferrets out an old family secret that will change the lives of the family forever.
Hinton's writing is soothing, and she constructs sentences in a poetic way. A passage about Tessa's Grandaddy:
"He was the moon to us when we were small, big and soothing and full. We didn't hear the stories of his drinking or his heavy hand until the ground over his casket was grassy and flat. Grandma saw no need to spoil our ideas of a good man."
A small book, words are used sparingly and precisely to help the reader get to know the characters, and to read this chapter in their lives with them. A quiet talent is Lynne Hinton...
thanks to an Amazon friend for helping me find her!
I guess I never really cared about the characters too much. It's not a thick enough book that there's a lot of room for exploring and exposing the characters, which is too bad, because they could be interesting. And I know Hinton's capable of it from her last book. I also read that the author thinks race relations is so important to this story ... I never got the whole emphasis on race relations thing. The story happens to characters who happen to be interracial friends/lovers, but I never get that it's important to the plot.
Not to mention that the "big secret" is telegraphed so blatantly it's hard not to know what it is almost immediately.
In spite of its faults, I think it would be OK for a quick beach read or if you just don't care for much depth at the moment.
Hinton tells a gentle story, a difficult story, but you know that, in the end, all things will work together for good, and they do.