384 p. HC
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.