If We Had Known

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Mass shootings in public spaces have become tragically commonplace. In If We Had Known by Elisa Juska, the carnage hits close to home when a college student shoots up a nearby shopping mall. For English teacher Maggie, reaction to the attack is complicated by the dismissive and possibly negligent way she responded to a violent essay by the shooter four years earlier. Is she culpable for failing to flag vital signs? The story follows Maggie, her daughter, and their community as they try to make sense of the senseless.

Juska effectively explores the vast reach and ambiguity of mass civilian shootings in the age of social media, digital footprints, and endless news. She likewise exposes the angst of two single mothers who try but fail to see their kids’ private challenges and who rely with mixed success on community surrogates to raise the alarm as needed.

Through these moms, who are arguably innocent of criminal culpability but guilty of helpless or ignorant inaction, the book asks what role individuals must now play in policing others to avoid future tragedy. No one can yet stop the carnage, so blame scatters like buckshot, and we await the next deadly event.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date 2018-Apr-17
ISBN 9781455561773
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue November 2018
Category Modern Literature


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