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If We Had Known

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3.44  ·  Rating details ·  793 ratings  ·  119 reviews
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 r ...more
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Published April 17th 2018 by Grand Central Publishing
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Tracy Yes, I think it would be good for starting all kinds of discussions. While involving an active shooter scenario, it is not graphic or disturbing

Community Reviews

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3.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  793 ratings  ·  119 reviews


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Erin
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, kobo
Awww...the human race is so judgmental. The plot is a headline that has become almost normal in our society. A gunman opens fire, kills a group of innocent people and then turns the gun on himself. As the media storm swirls, questions abound- why did this happen? did anyone know? and who's to blame?

Enter Professor Margaret(Maggie) Daley, who as it turns out knew the gunman as a former student. When a former classmate discusses a "disturbing" story that the gunman wrote in class on Facebook,
...more
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 all the way along, and it kept me hooked. There were
...more
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 glad for it because I ended up liking the book very ...more
Nat Walton
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, sad, fiction
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 to be captivating. The plot itself really wasn't a
...more
Jayme
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 student in that class, who posts a blog about that essay, as he
...more
Alesa
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A mass shooting happens at the mall of a small Maine college town. We follow the fallout through the eyes of the English professor who had taught him creating writing four years earlier --and who has an essay he wrote that might have been a tip-off to future behavior.

This masterfully written novel asks us very important questions:

* Can a mass murder ever really be anticipated?
* What responsibility do teachers have to look for potentially dangerous mental states?
* How much should a teacher become
...more
Elaine
May 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: am-i-thrilled
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 book is more about Maggie, her irritating daughte
...more
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 the psyche of her former, violent student is captivating, ...more
Tuti
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
a wonderful and necessary book. sensitive, literary sophisticated, multilayered writing. a highly relevant, tragic story of our times - a shooting at a mall, actually its aftermath, the way it affects the life of maggie, a professor of creative writing who had the future killer amongst her students - and also the life of her sensitive, adolescent daughter anna and other people involved. i very much appreciated the telling of the story from different pov's, each of them beautifully and insightful ...more
yasmine
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED THIS. SO MUCH. I got chills reading it. I think its so important to get the perspective of all the different people affected by the shooting, because its an accurate depiction of real life. so many people are affected directly and indirectly by shootings. the book really had me so hooked I finished it in one sitting.
Roxanne Meek
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jamie
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review to come
Shruthi
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
A longer version of this review is available here at my blog Reading Recluses

I 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 class, Maggie must deal with the implications that m
...more
Jessie Drew
Oct 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: october-tbr-2018
Honestly, it was “okay”. Interesting enough to keep reading but spread out too thin. Taking on the POV of several people involved in the plot created a bit of a messiness and the execution led to confusion (“wait, who’s talking now?”) that I could’ve done without.
The premise of the book has so much potential that I was psyched to read it. Unfortunately, the build up was more powerful than the story and the writing.
I wish it had been a deeper and darker story but, just imo, shifting the focus qu
...more
Lydia
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
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 took place in the opening pages—but on the repercussions ...more
Nina Cammalleri
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-books
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 valid in mass shooting situations and it was refreshing to
...more
Katherine
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 who are touched by the shooting, those who held r ...more
Mel
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Huh? Not to be desperate for the glorifying of gun violence, but this book was solely about a shooting in a mall and the effects on the people “involved” though the connections are actually tenuous and there is so little to propel the story after the initial inciting event. Also, the audiobook enhanced the dullness. Skip.
Susan
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tracy
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a pretty complex book, involving social media an its effects on our lives, different anxiety problems and their effects, and just tying to cope with life in general. Very sweet endng
Jane
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 with his dad. Maggie is also a rather distant mother ...more
Jay Jolles
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
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 myself weirdly invested in Maggie--particularly in ...more
Morgan Schulman
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Slow burn that pays off about 25% in. Solid 3.5.
Grumpybookworm
Oct 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018-dnf, 2018
I want to say this was OK, but I should be honest with myself and say I just didn't enjoy it. I wasn't entirely sure where it was going, what the story was trying to "say," or how it would wrap up. It was mainly just a long look at what a bunch of people were thinking and doing after this major event, but it didn't really reveal or say much. I would have liked more insight into the actual shooting - maybe a look at the victim's perspectives instead of Anna's (I'll get to her later). There just w ...more
Kathy
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Far too much of the foundation of this book is too preposterous for me to connect with the story.
Kimberly Mccune
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
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
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 our social media feeds, affects our lives, both ex
...more
Chris
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway, 2018
After a shooting at a local mall, English professor Maggie Daley discovers the shooter was one of her former students. While shaken by the event, she pours her focus into sending her daughter off to college and starting a new semester. However, when another former student, Luke Finch, makes a Facebook post alleging the shooter's class compositions might have contained extreme violence, Maggie is thrust into a nationwide debate over violence prevention.

The strongest part of this book is the chara
...more
Josephine
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nathan
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
"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 small town in Maine, a former college student, Nath ...more
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Elise Juska's novel The Blessings was released by Grand Central Publishing in 2014. The book was selected for Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers series, featured on Entertainment Weekly's "Must List," and named one of the Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of the Year.

Her new novel, If We Had Known, will be released by Grand Central on April 17, 2018.

Juska's short fiction and nonfict
...more