If We Had Known

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.

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*Available in Audio, Hardcover & eBook.

Reviews and Praise

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

A tender, whip-smart meditation on the origins and aftermath of tragedy. Here, Juska asks us an important and quietly devastating question: in what ways are we responsible to and for each other?

Carmen Maria Machado

author of the National Book Award Finalist Her Body and Other Parties

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

What a gripping and wise book this is. Elise Juska's unparalleled ability to convey how a single tragic event reaches out to change the lives of many is on full and compelling display here. I love when I read a book like If We Had Known and discover my next go-to gift for all my favorite readers.

Robin Black

author of Life Drawing

[A] bighearted novel... Juska's moving, multifaceted portrait of the Blessing family gleams like a jewel.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

There's no shortage of novels about the quirks and tragedies of large families, but The Blessings is a uniquely poignant, prismatic look at an Irish-Catholic clan as it rallies after losing one of its own.

Entertainment Weekly

"Must List”

Fans of writers like Anne Tyler, Alice McDermott and even Richard Yates will revel in Juska’s resplendent novel detailing two decades in the life of the Blessing clan.


Juska explores the aftermath of a violent event in a story that successfully speaks to issues of gun violence, the rise of anxiety in young people, the use and abuse of social media, and the role of educators today, capturing human vulnerability and the impact of tragedy on survivors. Recommended.

Library Journal

Captivates through the close and honest lens it places upon each of its characters.

RT Book Review

Switching between viewpoints, Juska contrasts the actions of a split second and the slow burn of a lifetime of behavior to show that both can have extensive, damning consequences that are rarely foreseen.


Juska explores the aftermath of a violent event in a story that successfully speaks to issues of gun violence, the rise of anxiety in young people, the use and abuse of social media, and the role of educators today, capturing human vulnerability and the impact of tragedy on survivors. Recommended.

Library Journal

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by Elise Juska

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.

About the Author

Elise Juska

Elise Juska

Elise Juska is the author of four previous novels, including The Blessings, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and one of the Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2014. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Ploughshares, the Gettysburg Review, the Missouri Review, Good Housekeeping, the Hudson Review, Prairie Schooner, and many other publications. She is the recipient of the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction from Ploughshares and her work has been cited by the Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prize anthologies. She lives outside Philadelphia and directs the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of the Arts, where she received the 2014 Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Publicity Requests - Caitlin Mulrooney-Lyski

Literary Representation - Katherine Fausset


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Events & Appearances

Tuesday, April 17 at 7:00 pm
Main Point Books
116 N. Wayne Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087

Thursday, April 26 at 7:00 pm
Open Book Bookstore
7900 High School Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027

Monday, May 7 at 7:00 pm
Newtonville Books
10 Langley Road
Newton, MA 02459

Wednesday, May 16 at 7:30 pm
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(with Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds)

Wednesday, June 6 at 6:00 pm
Penn Book Center
All But True Reading Series
130 S. 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(with Tom McAllister, author of How to Be Safe)

Wednesday, July 25 at 12:00 pm
Portland Public Library
Literary Lunch Series
5 Monument Square
Portland, ME 04101
(with Paul Doiron, author of Stay Hidden)

Other books by Elise Juska

The Blessings
The Blessings
Hailed by Stewart O’Nan as “deft and tender” and as one of the best books of 2014 by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Elise Juska’s THE BLESSINGS is an extraordinary novel about an ordinary family.

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