A thought-provoking, beautifully written portrait of marriage and motherhood is entwined with a propulsive, page-turning psychological mystery in Jessica Strawser’s Almost Missed You (St. Martin’s Press).
The novel starts with a clever and twisty set up – the romantic back story of how Violet and Finn meet cute, lose track of each other, then continually miss out on reconnecting over a period of years. A series of will-they-or- intrigues the reader with its snappy dialogue and romantic longing. We start to root for the couple even as the front story reveals its dramatic setup.
For it is there, set five years later, where we learn Finn has married Violet, has a son with her – and then out of the blue kidnaps the three-year-old boy and disappears. Finn not only goes on the run and destroys his marriage – he blackmails his best friends Caitlin and George in the process. His reasons, and his secrets, are completely hidden from his wife and slowly revealed to the reader.
The braided mysteries of the novel unravel, then start twisting and re-wrapping, each piece building on the another, until they finally collide in a surprising conclusion.
The story asks big questions: Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Can a person have more than one soul mate? What secrets are worth keeping from those you love? And how far can one person go to forgive another?
But it’s Strawser’s writing that provides the most enjoyable engine in the novel. Her dialogue is raw and honest and clever. There are lyrical sentences and flowing paragraphs that are never flowery or overdone and don’t call attention to themselves. Like a well-dressed tour guide, they lead you through every original setting and scene, until you arrive exactly where you need to be.
You’ll finish this book surprised and grateful that you made the journey with these flawed but believable characters. And probably – spoiler alert for your therapist! – charmed by the idea of missed connections and coincidences and fate to the point of believing, for at least a moment, in them all.
Almost Missed You is now available.
About Jessica Strawser
Jessica Strawser is the editor-at-large at Writer’s Digest, where she served as editorial director for nearly a decade and became known for her in-depth cover interviews with such luminaries as David Sedaris and Alice Walker. She’s the author of the book club favorites Almost Missed You, a Barnes & Noble Best New Fiction pick, and Not That I Could Tell, a Book of the Month selection now new in paperback. Her third novel, Forget You Know Me, released to raves in February 2019 (all from St. Martin’s Press).
Currently serving as the 2019 Writer-in-Residence at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Strawser has written for The New York Times Modern Love, Publishers Weekly and other fine venues, and lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two children. She tweets @jessicastrawser, enjoys connecting on Facebook, and speaks frequently at book clubs, libraries, writing conferences and events that are kind enough to invite her.