The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones
Published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
The small town where Ronnie Eastman lived isn’t altered too much by her disappearance, but the situation does seem to have a ripple effect on a few people’s lives. Ronnie’s sister, Susanna, a teacher who is unhappy in her marriage but passionate about her daughter and students, becomes fixated on Ronnie’s disappearance and obsessed with finding her, despite the fact that Ronnie’s always been quite unpredictable and could have very easily just run off somewhere. Tony, former baseball star turned police detective with a long-ago connection to Susanna, takes the case and begins to hunt for clues right alongside Susanna. Emily is an incredibly unpopular thirteen-year-old whose fascinating discovery is just about to change her life. And Wyatt, a solitary guy who works at one of the town’s factories, decides to indulge in a rare night out with the guys and is surprised to find himself falling for a woman he meets there. These people seemingly have nothing in common, but they are connected to one another in ways they cannot begin to imagine.
I’ve been hearing good things about The Next Time You See Me for several months now, so when I saw the author’s name on the list of UCF Book Festival authors, I thought it was the perfect time to pick up this novel I’d already been interested in reading. Overall this book didn’t disappoint – it was suspenseful, held my interest, and I engaged fully with the characters while reading it – and the experience definitely made me look forward to seeing Holly Goddard Jones in April.
While this novel centers around the fact that Ronnie is missing, it’s more about the four main characters than anything else. Each has a unique point of view and each one of them is connected to Ronnie in some way – although we don’t find out how exactly until the very end, in some cases – and I loved getting to know each of them and figuring out how their stories were all interconnected.
Of the four main characters, I definitely felt the strongest connection to Susanna. I felt deeply for her, as she was struggling in her marriage, yet still focused on being the best teacher and mother she could be. I empathized with her desires to have everything she wanted in life, and felt torn for her when she couldn’t decide what to do about her dissolving marriage. I can’t exactly condone some of her actions, but at the same time I can’t say I blame her for the choices she made either. She was also the only person in this entire novel who gave a damn about the fact that Ronnie was gone. Nobody else seemed to think anything of it, but that sisterly connection, that women’s intuition if you will, told her something wasn’t right. And she didn’t give up, not for one minute, until she figured out what was going on. I admired that about her character.
What I liked a lot about this novel was the way each character’s piece of the story was completely different, yet they came together brilliantly and seamlessly in the end. Jones weaved everything together just so, and just when the reader was convinced of how things would work out, she threw just a little curve ball – not the kind of manipulative ending I don’t enjoy, but just enough of a twisty ending to make you go, “ahhh, now I get it.”
I truly enjoyed The Next Time You See Me and can solidly recommend the novel. While not a typical thriller, it has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader’s interest, while also containing a well-developed and interesting cast of characters. I really liked this one.