Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones

Standalone
384 p. HC
Touchtone Publishing
Available today
Source: Goodreads First Reads and Publisher for review
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.
My thoughts:
 I really expected this to be more of a YA murder mystery or even an adult mystery. I wasn't completely wrong, but I wasn't completely correct either. It really is more of a soap opera of characters within a small town where the mystery of a murdered woman has happened. You follow several characters, but how the chapters are laid out you aren't lost nor mistake one character for another.

Within these character studies you would expect a variety of characters, hopefully colorful. Unfortunately, to me, they seemed as if they were all the same character with only the background or the circumstances altered a bit. They all seemed to be petty and selfish and looking to blame someone else for their current life circumstances. Even the children seemed to be on that same page. Perhaps this was deliberate and it actually felt that way. Because of that, it didn't bother me, and it felt as though it was exploring a humanistic theme from different angles.

I think where the book really shines is in the exploration of the murder mystery. It is the catalyst for the characters as well as the plot that draws them to the reader. It has no real twists but ironically that becomes a twist in itself. We often look for those twists that when we aren't presented with one, it becomes new.

I give this book 3 stars. While I do like the murder mystery, I just couldn't bring myself to really get involved with the group of characters. You can feel sympathy for them, but they felt too shallow, too selfish and they needed to have a bit more depth to their unexamined life for me to really connect to them. Still, it was an interesting whodunit and I recommend it for that.

22 comments:

  1. I haven't read a murder mystery in a very long time, but this doesn't really sound like a good place to start. I usually love small town stories, though, but not with a murder involved.
    The cover is gorgeous, though, I really like it.
    Great review, Mel!

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  2. The premise sounds so good though...

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    1. You might like it more than I did. The writing was pretty good, I just wasn't loving the characterization.

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  3. A bit like Emily myself in that as a child I also preferred my world of make believe to that of my classmates.

    With characters generally being of more importance to me than the plot I think I may well give this one with its too selfish and shallow characters a miss.

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    1. Sometimes those invisible friends really know how to party! :)

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  4. It's too bad the characters didn't stand out well because if they had this could be amazing. I love small town mysteries but so much of that is the characterization. I'm glad you still enjoyed this.

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    1. You might really like this one where I failed to love it. I think you'd love the mystery like I did though! :)

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  5. you're right I confess I would have guessed the same. my bad.

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  6. I am feeling very meh about this one

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  7. Haven't heard of this one. I'm a character girl so you lost me at shallow and when they all seemed the same just different backgrounds and circumstances.
    Which was it, YA or adult?

    Heather

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    1. Adult. :) I always specifically label YA/MG in the tags.

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  8. I love a good murder mystery! Getting to piece every single part of the puzzle is awesome. Nice review.

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  9. I just wrote a review for a similar book, where I loved the mystery aspect, but never connected with the characters and while I was entertained, i wasn't wowed. Wonderful review Melissa!

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  10. Hmm, I don't know if this one's for me. Thank you!

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  11. I hate it when I don't like the characters. At least the murder mystery was good, but selfish people... no thanks!

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  12. It's a shame the characters were so disappointing! The murder mystery sounds good though—you're so right, I'm always looking for the twist in these sorts of stories so when there isn't one, it's a big surprise. Great review, thanks for your honesty!

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  13. This seems like a book that would have been much more interesting if it dealt further with the murder mystery aspect. Honestly, that's the part of the summary that intrigues me the most. Sorry none of the characters really stuck out much! Glad you enjoyed parts of the book, enough to finish it at least.

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  14. Great review! Anyone who is out to buy English books online, must add this book in the list.

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