If We Had Known by Elise Juska

If We Had Known

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 g...

Details If We Had Known

TitleIf We Had Known
Release DateApr 17th, 2018
PublisherGrand Central Publishing
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Adult Fiction, Did Not Finish

Reviews If We Had Known

  • Briar's Reviews
    "If We Had Known" was a unique read that gave me chills.With all the shootings that have been happening, well...everywhere, I was honestly surprised I hadn't seen millions upon millions of books trying to hone in on the public interest. When I initially picked this book up, I was under the impression this book might try to do just that, but it was surprisingly and beautifully respectful.I did enjoy this book. I think it was an interesting ride al...
  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
    If We Had Known is a book that I was not totally sure that I would finish. Why? Because there are several predictable moments in the book that felt a bit too much for me to take. The first one occurred after I had read 25% of the book when the main characters made a move that I just KNEW would bite her in the ass later on. And, then several more occurrences happened that made me mentally roll my eyes. However, I decided to keep going. And, I'm gl...
  • Nat
    I picked up If We Had Known from the library shelf of "new releases" in an attempt to break out of my shell and not be influenced by Goodreads reviews. I think it worked out fairly well.If We Had Known is a relatively simple, character-driven and emotional novel. The style of prose and approach to characterization that Juska uses works really well. Normally, I'm not one to read a book almost solely because of the writing style, but I found her's ...
  • Jayme
    I wanted to love this book. But, I can only give it 3.75 stars.It was not the riveting novel about one of today’s most urgent crises that I expected..it’s more of a character study. The focus isn’t the mall shooting, but more about it’s aftermath on the residents of the small Maine town. Nathan Dugan was a student in Maggie Daley’s Freshman English class. An outsider, who wrote an essay, with many details about guns.Luke was another stu...
  • Elaine
    Jeez, this was boring! If We Had Known deals with the aftermath of a shooting by a young man named Nathan who was once in a creative writing class four years ago taught by Maggie. When it is discovered he had written an essay that may have offered clues to his violent behavior, Maggie must come to terms with the consequences of Nathan's actions, how it affects the community, the victims and those left behind. Like some reviewers have noted, this...
  • Michael Berquist
    “If We Had Known” by Elise Juska is one of the most thematically innovative I have read. The title refers not only to the characters pondering how they could have stopped a school shooting if they had known the shooter’s intentions but also refers to how a wife could have fixed her marriage and how a woman could have given friendship to a woman in need if she had known she needed it. The plot of a university professor trying to understand t...
  • Shruthi
    A longer version of this review is available here at my blog Reading ReclusesI received a copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.After a shooting at a local mall, Maggie Daley, English teacher, learns that the shooter was one of her former students. When Luke, another former student, writes a viral facebook post, mentioning a troubling essay written by the shooter for Maggie’s ...
  • Lydia
    Being an English teacher myself, I’ve encountered my fair share of troubling student writing and have had to pass along alarming student work to our school counselors. Because of this, I really connected with the main character, who I felt was both flawed and believable as she navigated life after a tragedy which everyone believes she could have potentially prevented. This book didn’t focus so much on the mass shooting itself—which briefly ...
  • Nina Cammalleri
    Very suspenseful and told with a lot of heart. I finished this book the day of the Jacksonville Madden shooting, so the narrative felt all too real.Update (2 days post read): I have just now come to realize that the book really doesn’t say anything about the shooter or what his family/friends did/didn’t do wrong. It’s about the third parties, the people who went to the same school, the same mall, knew so and so. These stories are just as va...
  • Katherine
    This is a book that touched me because, like the main character, I have found grading student writing to be a heavy and emotionally taxing task. What if we make the wrong call? Are we then the ones that must bear that responsibility? What is the line between what should be red flagged and what is not? Before you read this book, it's important to understand it's not a book about a shooting. That happens "off stage." This is a book about the people...
  • Susan
    Well written and engaging throughout. An in-depth look at some very contemporary issues ... mall shootings, eating disorders, alcohol hook ups in college, social media ... but also some universals dealing with family relationships, teacher-student experiences, personal fears, etc.
  • Jamie Rosenblit
    Review to come
  • Roxanne Meek
    Wow! So many layers in this amazing read! Of course there is the (timely) mall shooting that the story is built around, but it becomes such a small part of how this unfolds.... debilitating anxiety, eating disorders, the role of social media and it’s far reaching affects, the signs we miss as parents and teachers, blame and guilt- it is all wrapped up in this well written novel that I could not put down! I will be reading more from Elise Juska!
  • Jane
    I really thought this book was a fascinating exploration of the ways in which we can be implicated when things go wrong. The main character, Maggie, is a college English teacher, who gladly teaches comp 101. She's glad to be the one to open her students to the possibilities of writing powerfully when they write honestly. This invitation for students to write about what matters most to them becomes a problem when a student writes about hunting wit...
  • Jen Jolles
    I thought the premise of this book was unique and that's mostly what kept my sustained attention. While the mass-shooter story has been done and re-done in numerous genres, particularly YA, I think that Juska's focalization of the perspectives of the main characters did a really artful job of exploring the contours of these types of national tragedies and how they play out on a more micro scale. The book was a pretty captivating read and I found ...
  • Morgan Schulman
    Slow burn that pays off about 25% in. Solid 3.5.
  • Kathy
    Far too much of the foundation of this book is too preposterous for me to connect with the story.
  • Kimberly Mccune
    This a slow slog of a character study, not a fast-paced reaction to domestic terrorism. Juska knows her way around words but the marketing of this book is doing her no favors. Finishing was a chore and honestly it wasn't really worth it imo. Some nice moments but that's about it.
  • Greg
    This is NOT a book about a shooting. I repeat: This is NOT a book about a shooting.Yes, there is a shooting that acts as the catalyst for this immensely rich, character-driven novel, but that's what it is: a catalyst. Juska patiently follows a riveting cast of complex characters who, in one way or another, deal with anxiety, and that's what this novel investigates--how our modern world, tainted by shootings and other abrupt tragedies that plague ...
  • Summer Baroody
    I don’t know why I finished this book. I didn’t like any of the characters, the pacing seemed all wrong, and I’m not even sure what the point was. In addition to all of that it just kind of stops at the end in the worst way. Arrrrgghhhhhhh so many books to read out there and I wasted my time with this one.
  • Josephine
    While this author is a superb writer (paints a vivid picture, draws us into her characters, and has an eloquent narrative voice) I’m disappointed in the ending. I actually thought I skipped a page because the ending was abrupt and inconclusive. Juska addresses a contemporary and controversial topic (gun violence), but I found it to be a stretch to potentially hold a former writing professor liable for not detecting the gunman’s troubles earli...
  • Nathan
    "If We Had Known" tackles a national crisis in a very unexpected way. I can't imagine it is easy to write about a mass shooting, and one must be careful to tread these uncertain grounds. A writer could get lost in the intricacies and emotional loopholes of grieving families or survivors, and it could gravely miss its intended mark. Instead, Author Elise Juska writes about how a shooting effects not the people involved, but those around it. In a s...
  • Janie Hickok Siess
    College English professor Maggie Daley is a single mother whose only child, Anna, is days away from leaving home to start college. Anna has struggled with anxiety in the wake of her parents' divorce four years ago. Luke Finch is a quiet college dropout who works at the donut shop and dreams of moving out of his father's house. Four years ago, Luke was one of Maggie's students in a freshman England composition course. As was Nathan Dugan, who penn...
  • Kayla
    A bit disappointed in this one. It held my interest well enough, but it’s pretty long audiobook and not much happens after the mall shooting in the beginning. With the delicate climate of our society and the ever increasing presence of shootings, this topic has to be written perfectly to avoid criticism. The tragedy affects the town in varied ways from the gossip, to mass hysteria, to everyone thinking this will be their big journalistic break....
  • Robin
    Two books in a row about mass shootings. (This one and How to Be Safe.) Both focusing on the aftermath, both with smart female protagonists who also were teachers and had their lives and careers derailed, both good in different ways. How To Be Safe has a more biting style, mixing in dark humor. There were times when I found it hard to believe the convincing female main character was written by a man. She was so real. McAllister portrays the hyste...
  • Nancy
    This book was almost too real, too painful, for me to read, but I did finish it. Yes, there's a mall shooting, but the central theme of the book is how social media, mob mentality, and the anonymity of the internet can ruin people's lives. The reader is forced to watch as several people unravel for no good reason other than being victims of the rush to judgement of the mob. Had the shooting occurred pre-Internet, there would still certainly have ...
  • Michael
    Very good book about the gun violence we face today and the PTSD surivors suffer from. Was really impressed by the craft of the prose. The multiple points of view work out as the author imagines Maine for us. The depiction of the media frenzy felt real to me. Maggie is caught up with the misogynist culture expecting so much from her as a Professor. Her consciousness is fully realized.Also, Anna's character is rendered in a relatable fashion. She'...
  • Jen
    This book wasn't at all what I was expecting, as I thought it would delve more into the killer's mind and motives, which actually was never touched on. It was more about the blame-game and the butterfly effect, which was very believable. It's so easy for outsiders to sit back and cast judgment, without thinking of how it will affect the lives of others.I thought Anna's story seemed disjointed, even though she was pretty much the main focus. Her d...
  • Carina
    This is not a story about the terror of mass shootings. It doesn’t cover the statistics of mass shootings or a solution. It’s not about the profile of a mass shooter. It’s about how flawed people can miss flaws in others. Our expectation maybe that a teacher would know the signs of a student who has the propensity for rage, but this fictional story casts that idea as a satisfying fantasy. The teacher, Maggie, is not a strong hero. She isn...
  • Ward
    To me, this book was like an infinite hallway in a supernatural horror movie... I'm running and running trying to move forward, but I'm getting nowhere as the door at the end of the hall remains closed and just keeps getting further and further away. I slogged through 3/4 of this book before I decided I just couldn't do it anymore. Juska's writing is wonderful, but this is an emotional and character-driven novel. There is absolutely nothing wrong...