69 pages 2 hours read

Rebecca Makkai

I Have Some Questions for You

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2023

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Summary and Study Guide


I Have Some Questions for You (2023), Rebecca Makkai’s fifth novel, centers on the search for justice and truth in the face of institutional corruption. Emphasizing problematic aspects of true crime and the prevalence of podcasts as a form of media, the novel examines the circumstances surrounding the wrongful conviction of a Black man for the murder of a female student at a boarding school in the 1990s, contextualized by the subsequent rise of the #MeToo Movement. Makkai received numerous awards for her previous novel, The Great Believers.

This guide refers to the 2023 edition of I Have Some Questions for You, published by Viking.

Content Warning: The source material features depictions of suicide, self-harm, disordered eating, and sexual assault.

Plot Summary

I Have Some Questions for You focuses on the true crime reporting endeavors of protagonist Bodie Kane, a film professor at UCLA and enthusiastic podcaster who attended a New Hampshire boarding school called Granby in the 1990s. She later returns to her alma mater as an instructor with the dual goals of teaching a class on podcasts and delving more deeply into the events surrounding the murder of her roommate, Thalia Keith, while she was a student at Granby. At the time of the murder, authorities quickly built a case against a Black athletic trainer named Omar Evans, whose DNA, along with other circumstantial evidence, implicated him in the crime and secured a swift conviction. As Thalia’s former roommate, Bodie holds a deep personal interest in revisiting the facts of the case, so when Britt, one of her students, proposes to build a podcast reexamining the events surrounding Thalia’s murder and questioning the highly circumstantial case against Omar, Bodie actively encourages the project’s development and contributes her own memories to building its content.

As Britt creates further content for the podcast, she highlights rumors about Thalia’s affair with an older man and focuses on the possibility that Omar’s swift conviction had more to do with issues of racism than with the actual facts of the case. As the project gains momentum, Bodie realizes that the older man was not Omar, as authorities originally thought, but Mr. Dennis Bloch, a music teacher at Granby who served as a friend and mentor to Bodie while she was a student there, often working backstage on theater productions, including the fateful opening-night performance of Camelot that debuted on the night of Thalia’s death.

In the years since Bodie attended Granby, the #MeToo Movement has allowed more survivors space to make public accusations against the institutions that shield predators from justice, and soon after her arrival at Granby, Bodie’s estranged husband Jerome faces allegations of predatory behavior by a younger performance artist named Jasmine Wilde. As Bodie grapples with the accusations against her husband on Twitter and the resulting damage to the image of her own podcast, Starlet Fever, which explores to topics of abuse, harassment, and violence in early Hollywood, she contemplates the possibility of other suspects in Thalia’s case. Watching conspiracy theorist Dane Rubra’s YouTube videos about the case and coming to terms with long-buried memories, she expands the number of possible suspects to include Thalia’s boyfriend, Robbie Serenho, and Dennis Bloch. Makkai structures her novel by dedicating whole chapters to each of these nine suspects and allowing Bodie, as the narrator, to enumerate possible murder scenarios in the true spirit of amateur crime-solving.

Amid Bodie’s current responsibilities as a teacher at Granby, she flashes back to her past as a student there, and during these interludes, she employs the second person and takes on an accusatory tone, addressing an unseen person understood to be Dennis Bloch. In the sections detailing her present-day activities, Bodie reconnects with Fran, her peer from Granby and someone who still lives and works there. During her time teaching at Granby, Bodie also tries to connect with Yahav, a law professor and Bodie’s illicit lover, although both of them are married to other people.

Eventually, the case against Omar begins to weaken as Thalia’s younger sister Vanessa shares evidence that Bodie passes on to Britt and Alder, another student in class who volunteers to work on the podcast. Bodie’s memories also contribute, as she recalls other places on campus, including the athletic equipment shed, where Thalia might have been hurt or murdered. Her work makes certain staff and faculty at Granby uncomfortable, including Priscilla Mancio. As she flies back home, she advises Alder to check the equipment shed for further evidence.

Part 2 opens with new evidence and a hearing for a retrial in Omar Evans’s case. After Bodie’s tenure as a Granby teacher and before the hearing, Alder and Britt have worked with Bodie and her podcast producer to create a professional podcast dedicated to Thalia’s murder. As she remembers more details, Bodie becomes even more convinced that Bloch was involved. Coming back to Granby as a witness for the defense, Bodie encounters former classmates. Among them is Mike Stiles, who played King Arthur in Camelot and remains good friends with Robbie. Now married with children, Robbie returns for the hearing, which the Keith family—save for Vanessa—opposes.

Beth Docherty, Thalia’s best friend at Granby, testifies at the hearing and insults Bodie later when they meet again. Later, as they meet in the hotel where they both are staying during the hearing, Beth confesses that she was assaulted at Granby and that Bloch acted like a predator to both her and Thalia. As more witnesses from the 1990s take the stand, Granby’s influence over the original conviction becomes visible, especially with the revelation that Dr. Calahan, then the head of Granby, advised the authorities not to treat any students or faculty as suspects.

Bodie tracks Beth down in Vermont after Beth testifies to learn more about Robbie’s movements on the night of the murder, for Bodie and Alder want to test the theory that Robbie showed up late to a party the night of Thalia’s death, indicating that he may have killed her before his late arrival. Beth admits that Robbie appeared late that night and says that he was often abusive toward Thalia. Beth testifies again, followed by Robbie.

The hearing adjourns, and Bodie goes back to LA. Months later, she returns to Granby, visiting Fran and Geoff, a classmate whom she is seeing romantically. Their other Granby friend, Carlotta, has died of breast cancer, and they sprinkle her ashes on campus. In the meantime, survivors from other schools begin to speak up and accuse Bloch of predatory behavior.