Synopses & Reviews
A gorgeous and taut literary drama in the vein of We Need to Talk about Kevin
, from the critically acclaimed author of The Blessings
, about a mother and daughter struggling with guilt, fear, and the dangerous bonds of family in the aftermath of a mass shooting in their small New England town.
After a shooting in her local mall in rural Maine, English professor Maggie Daley is stunned to learn the gunman was her former student. She is further dismayed when she finds an old essay offering clues to his violent nature she might have missed.
Even as the tragedy begins to fade from the national consciousness, its ripple effect on Maggie intensifies, jeopardizing her relationships with those closest to her, including her anxiety-ridden daughter, Anna; her ex-husband; and her boss-not to mention her new, but secret, relationship with a colleague. Meanwhile, a viral social media post prompts further public scrutiny and an investigation into the shooter's troubled past. Feeling pressured from all sides, Maggie begins to fear that her culpability may extend past a simple sense of guilt and put the life she's built at risk.
IF WE HAD KNOWN explores the private implications of public tragedies, how we navigate fear in today's world, and whether it's possible to see anyone-children, parents, students--as they truly are.
A literary tour de force from the acclaimed author of The Blessings-a riveting new novel about one of the most urgent crises of our time. One August afternoon, as single mother Maggie Daley prepares to send her only child off to college, their world is shattered by news of a mass shooting at the local mall in rural Maine. As reports and updates about the tragedy begin to roll in, Maggie, an English professor, is further stunned to learn that the gunman had been a student of hers. Nathan Dugan was an awkward, complicated young man whose quiet presence in her classroom had faded from her memory-but not, it seems, the memories of his classmates. When a viral blog post hints at the existence of a dark, violence-tinged essay Nathan had written during Maggie's freshman comp seminar, Maggie soon finds herself at the center of a heated national controversy. Could the overlooked essay have offered critical red flags that might have warned of, or even prevented, the murders to come? As the media storm grows around her, Maggie makes a series of desperate choices that threaten to destroy not just the personal and professional lives she's worked so hard to build, but-more important-the happiness and safety of her sensitive daughter, Anna.
Engrossing and provocative, combining sharp plot twists with Juska's award-winning, trademark literary sophistication, IF WE HAD KNOWN is at once an unforgettable mother-daughter journey, an exquisite portrait of a community in turmoil, and a harrowing examination of ethical and moral responsibility in a dangerously interconnected digital world.