The Next Time You See Me
by Holly Goddard Jones
published by Simon & Schuster
Thirteen-year-old Emily Houchens doesn’t have many friends. She finds more comfort playing make-believe in the woods near her house in Roma, Kentucky, than with her classmates, who find her strange and awkward. When she happens upon a dead body hidden in the woods one day, she decides not to tell anyone about her discovery—a choice that begins to haunt her.
Susanna Mitchell has always been a good girl, the dutiful daughter and wife. While her older sister Ronnie trolled bars for men and often drove home at sunrise, Susanna kept a neat house, a respectable job, a young daughter. But when Ronnie goes missing, and Susanna realizes that she’s the only person in Roma who truly cares about her sister’s fate, she starts to question her quiet life and its value.
The Next Time You See Me is the story of how one woman’s disappearance exposes the ambitions, prejudices, and anxieties of a small southern town and its residents, who are all connected, sometimes in unexpected ways. Emily; Susannah; Tony, a failed baseball star-turned-detective, aspiring to be the county’s first black sheriff; and Wyatt, a fifty-five-year-old factory worker tormented by a past he can’t change and by a love he doesn’t think he deserves. Their stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie but all of their secret selves (from Goodreads).
I received this book from Goodreads as a free giveaway, and I am very glad I did. The author has given us a very well written, gripping debut novel. This is the story of a murder in a small town where the lives of all the character intersect. Among the very well developed characters are: Susanna, the Middle School teacher, dissatisfied with her job and marriage, who leads the search for her missing sister Ronnie; Emily, the awkward 13 year old girl who is bullied relentlessly at school; and Wyatt, the over 50 factory worker who has never found love and lives alone with his dog, Boss, also bullied, but by the younger men at the factory. The chapters shift points of view between these and other character, and show just how interconnected life in a small town is.
I thought this book was very well written, with great character development. The only problem I had was how sad and depressing most of their lives were, and that is why I will give it a 3.5 instead of a 4. I was drawn in, but couldn’t find one character to really sympathize with, except maybe Sarah the nurse.
I would definitely recommend this book and will look forward to reading more from this author!
rating- 3.5 out of 5