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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2018 Elise Juska (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Captivates through the close and honest lens it places upon each of its characters." (RT Book Review)

"Juska's story nests in a thicket of current issues: social media, gun violence, teenage anxiety and anorexia, and the responsibility of academics with regard to troubled students. Well-written, realistic, and suspenseful to the point of dread." (Kirkus Reviews)

"In elegant, gripping prose, If We Had Known offers a startling and empathetic look at the humanity behind the all-too-frequent headlines. Juska has produced that rarest and best kind of literature - a page-turner with a message and a heart." (Darin Strauss, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Half a Life)

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Just ok

This was a fairly interesting story that didn't really go anywhere. I enjoyed the idea but would have appreciated a few more surprises along the way.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A completely different perspective on a sad tale

If We Had Known is a complex tale surrounding the simple choices we make and the regretful ones that we do not. The book surrounds the aftermath of a mass shooting by a college student, done at the local mall. Although it does touch on many of the political issues that we struggle with today, it does so without any particular bias. It takes on one of the most controversial and heated topics of our day and it does so from a completely different perspective. The perspective is that of the shooter's old college professor, a woman who taught the shooter and may have missed something in one of his college essays that could have saved many lives. Maggie and Anna are complex and emotional characters, and are people like you and I, completely relatable and real. They draw you in from page one and you find yourself understanding and, even agreeing with many of the decisions that they made although they led to a truly heartbreaking end for many (at least in Maggie's case). This book is beautifully written and the narration is excellent. It is very rare that I stay up past midnight to finish a book and this book had me up at 2AM! I found myself turning on the book every time I had a free moment. I highly recommend this book, hard copy or audio version.