To be Published March 28, 2017 by St. Martin’s Press
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. Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.
I want to start by saying I LOVE that cover! That’s what drew me to this book several months ago when it popped up on Netgalley. This is Jessica Strawser’s debut novel and what a debut it is. I had this novel, along with several other upcoming new releases, on my radar and being the mood reader that I am, I decided to read the first few chapters of each and see what hit me the most. I was on vacation last week so I NEEDED something to really catch my interest. After reading the first few pages of Almost Missed You I had a winner!
The novel begins with Violet, mom to 3 year old Bear (ok I’ll admit his name really bugged me…it’s not a nickname) and wife to Finn. She’s relaxing by the pool on vacation and enjoying a rare few moments to herself to read and enjoy a drink as Finn has volunteered for nap duty. I think all moms can appreciate this set up! Violet is pondering the idea of fate and all the instances life had to add up just right for she and Finn to end up where they are…she loves her life and appreciates how the stars have seemed to align to bring her to this place of happiness. Can you just feel the coming of catastrophe??
I was immediately drawn in with the author’s writing style in this opening scene. It was engaging and I felt a connection to Violet right away. For me, a connection is a must to get me to continue reading! It really is interesting to think about all the ways life could’ve turned out differently if just one thing hadn’t happened or happened in a different way…and that’s where the author really captured my attention from the get go.
Needless to say, when Violet gets up to their hotel room her life effectively implodes and she’s left shocked and at a loss to figure out where it all went wrong. Where is her husband and child? It doesn’t take long for her to then ask herself… how is it she never really knew her husband? More importantly, what is he hiding from his past that has led him to kidnap their child and basically drop a bomb on their happy life??
There is so much to like about this book. The characterization is strong in that I knew I had to find out what led to Violet and Finn’s downfall. The secondary characters…Violet’s “Gram,” their best friends George and Caitlin were also fairly multidimensional. Now, that being said, that doesn’t mean I liked all of these characters or really understood a lot of their motivations. In fact, I really only liked Violet and Gram. I thought Caitlin was probably the worst best friend anyone could’ve asked for and her decision making abilities and complete lack of common sense grated on my nerves. I should probably back up a little and say that the story is narrated from the alternating perspectives of Violet, Finn, and Caitlin…that’s how I got to know (and not like) Caitlin and Finn. The narration also flips back and forth between time periods from past (many years ago) to present. I thought this method worked very well for this story.
I don’t want to discuss any more of the plot because I think you should read this without any hints as to what went wrong or what ends up happening. I will tell you, I stayed up SUPER late reading the first half of this book, the pace was spot on and I just had to KNOW more. The second half, however, began to unravel for me and I found myself skimming to get to dialogue. There was a lot of character introspection and descriptive details of events that I just didn’t care about or think added to the plot. Basically, I wanted more dialogue and less introspection. Also, I just expected more when it came to the resolution of “why” Finn did what he did. I know I’m being vague but I don’t want to give anything away. In addition, the final scenes seemed somewhat implausible to me and a little too ‘over the top’. I honestly don’t know how I feel about that ending and would LOVE to discuss it with others after you read this book. For the ending alone, I think this would make a great selection for book clubs! Overall, this is a well-written debut and I will definitely be reading Jessica Strawser’s next novel!!
Many thanks to St Martin’s Press & Netgalley for my copy of Almost Missed You, I’m happy to provide an honest review