Book Title: Almost Missed You
Author: Jessica Strawser
REVIEWED BY: MARY
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Women’s Fiction
Date Read: 04/24/17
Pub Date: 03/28/17
Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.
So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.
Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.
Have you ever driven by a car accident and thought, “That could have been me. If I hadn’t forgotten my phone or purse or wallet, etc. and turned back, that could have been me.” Do those near misses belong in the category of FATE or COINCIDENCE? Some people believe that there are no coincidences, only our lives unfolding exactly as they were meant to. The theoretical viewpoints debating FATE versus COINCIDENCE are vast.
ALMOST MISSED YOU weaves a tangled web of events whose ripple effects blur the lines between the two until they are indecipherable.
First, let me start by saying, this debut novel is well thought out and beautifully written. I’m normally a sucker for secondary characters, but not this time around. Even though Gram and Bear were likeable characters that were nicely developed, I was far more drawn to the flaws of the main characters than the charm and wisdom of the secondary ones because of the way their feelings were portrayed. Strawser captures overwhelming emotions so eloquently in this book. I was in awe of how perfectly she was able to deliver elation and despair within the same sentence. Reading the description of the emotional and physical pain Violet experienced while missing her son, not knowing when or if she would see him again, if he was safe, or crying for her, I found myself doubled over, clutching my stomach, in a sort of fetal position. The author managed to communicate Violet’s love and pain in such a realistically raw manner, that as a mother, I had a physical reaction. What I’m getting at here is that the woman can write!
Throughout the book the story is told from different characters vantage points. The reader is able to see each character’s story unfold while simultaneously getting caught in the cross hairs of the others. Finn, Violet, and Caitlin, are each tangled in the other’s lives and their secrets through choice and happenstance. The story shifts back and forth from past to present allowing the reader to discover the tragic events that lead Finn to kidnap his son and flee from his seemingly happy life. As friendships are tested and loyalties questioned, the connections between the characters and the choices they’ve each made begin to reveal themselves causing a chain reaction of guilt and blame. No one comes out unscathed.
I would classify this read as more mystery than suspense. ALMOST MISSED YOU is a compelling read about relationships that is jam packed with emotion. I took my time reading this book as it is designed to make the reader question each choice that is made retrospectively. If even one of them had done something differently, would it have changed the course of events for the others? Or was this outcome, inevitable? I think this novel is ideal for Book Clubs as the discussion possibilities are bountiful. I give ALMOST MISSED YOU 4 stars, an impressive debut that pairs well with Ghost Pines Cabernet, which I happened to pick up the very same day this book arrived on my doorstep…
FATE or COINCIDENCE? Either way, I enjoyed both!
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to review it here on the blog.
By day, Jessica Strawser is the Editorial Director of Writer’s Digest magazine, North America’s leading publication for aspiring and working writers since 1920. By night, she is a fiction writer with a debut novel, ALMOST MISSED YOU, forthcoming in 2017 from St. Martin’s Press and another stand-alone novel to follow in 2018. And by the minute, she is a proud wife and mom to two super sweet and super young kids in Cincinnati, Ohio.