"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, August 10, 2023


I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

Book Beginnings Quote:


A successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget her past—the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the murder of her former roommate, Thalia Keith, in the spring of their senior year. Though the circumstances surrounding Thalia's death and the conviction of the school's athletic trainer, Omar Evans, are hotly debated online, Bodie prefers—needs—to let sleeping dogs lie.

But when the Granby School invites her back to teach a course, Bodie is inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent flaws. In their rush to convict Omar, did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there? As she falls down the very rabbit hole she was so determined to avoid, Bodie begins to wonder if she wasn't as much of an outsider at Granby as she'd thought—if, perhaps, back in 1995, she knew something that might have held the key to solving the case.

Review: I Have Some Questions for You is a complicated story. Yes, there is a murder, but it happened over twenty years ago at a boarding school. And the school's athletic trainer was found guilty of the crime. But did he do it or was he framed? Bodie Kane, now a podcaster, who always felt like she was an outsider while she was attending the boarding school, finds herself back at the school to teach a seminar about podcasting. One of her students decides to do her project on the murder and draws Bodie back into the drama she had successfully shoved off to the side in her life up to that point. As Bodie reflects on the murder and what she knows, or thinks she knows, the reader gets a lot of her back story about a complicated and neglectful childhood, marriage, and about her life at Granby School. There are a lot of characters, past and present, and a lot of interesting plot points to keep track of. Not until the last one third of the book do all the pieces start to slot together.

Reading reviews on-line I found one on the New York Times website where the reviewer, Hamilton Cain, didn't think I Have Some Questions for You was anywhere near as good as Makkai's book The Great Believers, which was both a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist in 2019. I nodded my head in agreement when I read that line since I am a huge fan of that book, too. "I Have Some Questions for You lacks the richer hues of this author’s earlier books, but it’s whip-smart, uncompromising and (mostly) a pleasure to read." 

But then I read the review on NPR. Reviewer, Gabino Iglesias, thinks this book is by far Makkai's best. "A long list of praiseful adjectives — sharp, twisty, enthralling, cerebral, surprising — would serve as a review of Rebecca Makkai's I Have Some Questions For You. However, that approach would fail to communicate just how labyrinthine, well constructed and multilayered the narrative is."

Egads, I agree with both of these reviews. I guess you will have to read the book to decide how you feel about the book yourself. Let's just say, I liked both of the books so much I am hoping to read some of Makkai's previous novels now.

In case you are interested, the you in the novel’s title is Mr. Bloch, a long departed music teacher from Granby School. He may have groomed the murdered girl for sex. Bodie begins her tale with an accusation that doubles as a lament. And throughout the book the reader comes to understand that Bodie is writing a letter and an accusation to him throughout. (I know, I know. Complicated!)

I listened to the audiobook narrated by voice actor Julia Whelan. She did an excellent job but for some reason her voice kept making me think of other books. I looked it up. Whelan has narrated over 400 audiobooks. Many of them I have listened to. No wonder I kept thinking about other books. It was both odd and disconcerting at the same time.

Another odd thing happened when I was in the middle of this audiobook. I stopped listening to it for a week. I was busy on a family vacation and had selected a different audiobook for the car trip. When I returned home and restarted I Have Some Questions for You, I listened for a few minutes, not remembering a thing. Nothing. I couldn't remember the plot, the characters, the setting. Nothing. It was the oddest thing, something that has never happened to me before. Sometimes I've set aside audiobooks for months and I can still remember everything the moment I start back. This time it took be several minutes before the story slotted back into place. Oddly, after the story reappeared in my mind I still had a vague feeling that it could happen again. I wonder if the complexity of the plot, the sheer number of characters and details not presented in a chronological way contributed to my momentary amnesia. 

My rating 4.25-4.5

I Have Some Questions for You is 438 pages long, qualifying for the Big Book Summer Challenge.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader. First Line Friday is hosted by Reading is My Super Power. Share the opening quote from current book.The Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.


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