One of the small-but-significant joys of reading is figuring out the meaning behind the title. The moment when I make the connection – “oh, that’s what the author was going for” gives me the same sense of delighted satisfaction as finding the a tricky piece in a jigsaw puzzle. In the case of Rebecca Makkai’s latest, I Have Some Questions For You, the title is as multilayered and meaningful as the book itself.
Bodie Kane is a successful podcaster and film professor – a life she never would have envisioned when she was a scholarship student at Granby, an exclusive New England boarding school. Now she’s returning to Granby to teach a class on podcasting – and to figure out the truth of what happene to her roommate Thalia, who was murdered during their senior year. While the school’s athletic trainer was convicted of the crime, Bodie has doubts about the conviction – and her own memories. She and her students reopen the investigation, and what they uncover forces Bodie to reexamine her time at Granby, the life she’s built since then, and what she truly believes.
The book is densely plotted, with all the twist and turns of a cold case mystery, including a host of suspects and long-held secrets. The true focus, though, isn’t Thalia’s murder, but Bodie herself, and the way she comes to terms with all the ways Granby shaped her. While all the characters are expertly drawn, allowing us to see both their teenaged selves and the people they’ve grown into, it is Bodie herself – flawed, frustrating, and endearing – who feels most achingly real. Makkai’s gift for fresh and evocative prose is never more evident than when she’s letting us see the world through Bodie’s eyes.
But back to that title: I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t reveal all the ways it clicks into this story like an elegantly crafted puzzle piece. What I will say is that this is a book of big questions – about justice, memory, the MeToo movement, privilege, friendship, and identity – just to name a few. What makes I Have Some Questions For You so powerful is that the answers that Bodie and Makkai arrive at by the last page only raise more questions, inviting us to dive deeper. It’s a book that practically begs to be discussed – because the asking, it turns out, is nearly as valuable as the answering.
One thought on “Erica’s Pick of the Week: I Have Some Questions For You”
Erica, you were very convincing. I placed a hold on this book.