I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai: ‘The wheels of justice came off the wagon a long time ago’    

Cover image for I Have Some Questions to Ask You by Rebecca MakkaiI’ve yet to get around to reading Rebecca Makkai’s last novel, The Great Believers, but I enjoyed both The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House so put up my hand for a copy of her new novel. I Have Some Questions for You follows Bodie who never felt she fit in at Granby, the boarding school she spent four years of her life and where Thalia, briefly her roommate, was murdered, aged seventeen.

But things looked different in 2018. We were, all of us, casting a sharp eye back on the men who’d hired us, mentored us, pulled us into coat closets. I had to consider now perhaps you were skilled at subtly eroding boundaries, making adolescent girls feel like adults.

Bodie is back at Granby, invited to give a two-week course to a handful of students keen to sign up for her expert advice. She runs Starlet Fever, a successful podcast following young actresses who met with violent ends, which has sparked an obsession with Thalia’s death. She’s now convinced that the man in gaol has been wrongly convicted. When one of her students announces she wants to investigate the case, Bodie’s careful not to appear too enthusiastic but is overjoyed. Britt can do what she cannot. Over the next two weeks, Bodie revisits her years as a misfit at Granby, scanning her memory and finally coming up with a piece of information which eventually leads to a hearing calling for a retrial for which she returns two years later. Throughout her investigations, Bodie has become convinced that Dennis Bloch, the music teacher she’d felt so close to, had something to do with Thalia’s death. Meanwhile, every day, women are suffering violence and coercion and men are getting away with it.

It was like seeing someone hanged for stealing gum when down the street someone else was robbing a bank.

You could categorise Makkai’s novel as crime fiction – there’s a great deal of sleuthing, presentation of evidence and discussion of court proceedings not to mention suspense – but I suspect there may be too much in the way of characters’ backstories and details of boarding school life for many crime readers although I enjoyed them. Bodie aims her testimony at Bloch who seems to have left little or no trace of himself, wanting to ask him questions that will likely never be answered. Her first visit to Granby takes place in 2018 when #MeToo grabbed the western world’s attention only to lose it again. Makkai punctuates her narrative with a litany of violence, sexual harassment and coercion suffered by women, given little credence by the legal system, balancing it neatly with Bodie’s estranged husband’s brush with social media fury for dating a twenty-one-year-old when he was thirty-six. It’s an absorbing, suspenseful and thought-provoking novel, a great piece of storytelling underpinned with a sober theme, if a little too long for me.

Fleet: London 9780349727202 448 pages Hardback (Read via NetGalley)

11 thoughts on “I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai: ‘The wheels of justice came off the wagon a long time ago’    ”

  1. I’m closing on 3/4 through this now and would agree that it’s too long and detailed on her classmates and various theories — more lit fic than crime what with the focus on backstory and psychological depth. Exceptionally written, though, with Bodie a great narrator.

  2. I’m so curious about this writer now. She wrote a great piece for Lit Hub on setting. I am FASCINATED by boarding schools. This would be up my alley!

  3. Pingback: All My Wild Mothers by Victoria Bennett & I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai | Bookish Beck

Leave a comment ...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.