Barbara Graham On The Joy Of “Not Knowing” In Crafting Her Compassionate and Suspenseful Debut Novel
When musician Henry Bird disappears shortly before the birth of his daughter, local police initially chalk it up to a fear of impending fatherhood. Yet his mother, Helen, instinctively fears the worst and sets out to uncover what happened. As Helen pursues her investigation, Lucie and Matt Pressman, two young Manhattanites who frequently vacation in Henry’s hometown of Aurora Falls, New York, welcome the arrival of their son, Jonah. When the Pressmans return to Aurora Falls the summer their son Jonah is seven, Helen and Lucie find their lives inexplicably connected. Jonah, who has long referenced his “other mom and dog,” rattles off memories that only could have been known by Henry, who remains missing. The two mothers, unnerved by this improbability, form a cautious friendship as they seek to understand the link between their sons and uncover what happened to Henry all those years before. Barbara Graham’s What Jonah Knew is a compassionate examination of grief, a celebration of friendships and unexpected communities, and a deeply gripping mystical thriller. Graham spoke to us about her extensive research, unlocking the different voices of her characters, and the joy of “not knowing” in writing.