Watch CBS News

Book excerpt: "I Have Some Questions for You" by Rebecca Makkai


We may receive an affiliate commission from anything you buy from this article.

Rebecca Makkai, author of "The Great Believers," returns with "I Have Some Questions for You" (Viking), a New York Times bestselling novel about a woman who examines the mysteries still surrounding the decades-old murder of her boarding school roommate.

Read an excerpt below:

"I Have Some Questions for You" by Rebecca Makkai (Hardcover)

Prefer to listen? Audible has a 30-day free trial available right now.

"You've heard of her," I say—a challenge, an assurance. To the woman on the neighboring hotel barstool who's made the mistake of striking up a conversation, to the dentist who runs out of questions about my kids and asks what I've been up to myself. 

Sometimes they know her right away. Sometimes they ask, "Wasn't that the one where the guy kept her in the basement?" No! No. It was not. 

Wasn't it the one where she was stabbed in—no. The one where she got in a cab with—different girl. The one where she went to the frat party, the one where he used a stick, the one where he used a hammer, the one where she picked him up from rehab and he—no. The one where he'd been watching her jog every day? The one where she made the mistake of telling him her period was late? The one with the uncle? Wait, the other one with the uncle? 

No: It was the one with the swimming pool. The one with the alcohol in the—with her hair around—with the guy who confessed to—right. Yes. 

They nod, comforted. By what? 

My barstool neighbor pulls the celery from her Bloody Mary, crunches down. My dentist asks me to rinse. They work her name in their mouths, their memories. "I definitely know that one," they say. 

"That one," because what is she now but a story, a story to know or not know, a story with a limited set of details, a story to master by memorizing maps and timelines. 

"The one from the boarding school!" they say. "I remember, the one from the video. You knew her?" 

She's the one whose photo pops up if you search New Hampshire murder, alongside mug shots from the meth-addled tragedies of more recent years. One photo—her laughing with her mouth but not her eyes, suggesting some deep unhappiness—tends to feature in clickbait. It's just a cropped shot of the tennis team from the yearbook; if you knew Thalia it's easy to see she wasn't actually upset, was simply smiling for the camera when she didn't feel like it.

It was the story that got told and retold.

It was the one where she was young enough and white enough and pretty enough and rich enough that people paid attention.

It was the one where we were all young enough to think someone smarter had the answers.

Maybe it was the one we got wrong.

Maybe it was the one we all, collectively, each bearing only the weight of a feather, got wrong. 

From "I Have Some Questions For You" by Rebecca Makkai, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2023 by Rebecca Makkai Freeman.

Get the book here:

"I Have Some Questions for You" by Rebecca Makkai (Hardcover)

Buy locally from Indiebound

For more info: 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.