Not That I Could Tell (St. Martin’s Press) by Jessica Strawser examines life under the suburbia microscope. When a group of friends gather around a fire pit in one of their backyards, wine in hand, the conversation turns both dramatic and personal. A few days later, one of the women is missing and the friends are left to pick up the pieces of what they thought was her perfect life. Each of the friends has their own secrets and hidden truths, which makes for some juicy, page-turning drama!

The character sketches in the book reminded me of Celeste Ng or Liane Moriarty. Each character has a distinct personality and complexity, which I loved. I think the idea that we never truly know our neighbors and friends is so compelling because we often spend so much time with them. Our neighbors rescue us when we miss the school bus, get our mail, watch our children, let us borrow a cup of sugar. And yet, we still keep our private lives locked up tight. I particularly loved hearing from the twelve-year-old Hallie, a spunky, dogmatic, investigative reporter in the making!

I admire how Strawser examined the stigma around domestic abuse. The women in the book question their missing friend, each other, and themselves, as they try to string together the events leading up to the night at the fire and the day after. In a real life domestic abuse situation, we want to believe our friends and neighbors will always do the right thing, act and think in our best interests but the truth is often murkier. We don’t want to believe that someone we may have barbecued with could have a dark side. Kristin’s closest friends have a personal stake when Clara’s past and Izzy’s present collide in some dramatic sparks.

Not That I Could Tell is the perfect end of summer, beginning of fall read. Grab a glass of wine, curl up next to a fire and get lost for a few hours. Now available for purchase. 

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Jessica Strawser ( is editor-at-large at Writer’s Digest, where she was editorial director for nearly a decade. She’s the author of the book club favorites Almost Missed You and Not That I Could Tell, a Book of the Month selection and Barnes & Noble Best New Fiction pick for March 2018 (both St. Martin’s Press). Her third novel, Forget You Know Me, is forthcoming in February 2019. She has written for The New York Times Modern Love, Publishers Weekly and other fine venues, and is a popular conference speaker. Connect with her on Twitter at @jessicastrawser and on Facebook @jessicastrawserauthor.