Judith D Collins
Almost Missed You
By: Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 3/28/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars 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.
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.
Mind-Expanding! Jessica Strawser delivers a thought-provoking, creative, gripping, page-turning mystery and suspenseful debut, ALMOST MISSED YOU.
The what ifs . . . Meant to be. Almost. Destiny. A Chance Meeting.
Imagine if . . . ?
Marriage, friendship, motherhood, romance, trust, and betrayal. Secrets and lies. Pushing life's boundaries. Life is complex yet intriguing. Providence, the stars, chance, luck, serendipity, fortune, kismet, karma.
"What has fate in store for me?" FATE: The development of events beyond a person's control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power.
2016: Violet and Finn are married with a son named Bear. They are on vacation in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida (North Miami). Life was good. Violet was a great mother. They had met six years ago, on this very beach on the other side of the pier. It was an instant electric connection. However, they were interrupted before they had the chance of exchanging information.
Dominoes. How did they end up together? Were they positioned perfectly? Why were they interrupted?
However, now, years later their well-planned getaway, turns tragic. Had her husband planned this all along?
Violet comes in from the beach to her ninth-floor hotel room to check on her son. Horrified, her son is gone. Her husband is not there. All their belongings are gone. Nothing left but her things. How could this have happened? Every trace of her husband and son were done. As if they had been figments of her imagination.
The author takes us back to 2010, a T-shirt, a camp from Pennsylvania, where the couple met in Sunny Isles Beach, FL. An odd coincidence? Their interruption. An emergency on the beach separated them. Was it meant to be, after all?
Finn comes back from meeting this woman whom he thinks he will never see again. Someone from Cincinnati area. How was it possible they had managed to have a real connection and yet find out so little about each other?
Enter: Craigslist’s Missed Connections. Finn drafted his post. “Care to pick up where fate left off?”
However, the person who replied was not Violet. It was Maribel. A stranger. What if he had not placed the ad? Maribel would not be dead. He would not be self-destructing. A life imploding.
Flashing back and forth from the past to the present, Violet is frantic. The police are involved. The FBI. An investigation. No one has found her husband and child.
Their best friends: Caitlin and her husband, George. They had twin boys close to the same age as Bear. Caitlin and Finn were friends since college. Why on earth would Finn do such a thing? How could any wife be as truly blindsided as Violet had been?
Finn’s parents were dead. He had a secret past. Perhaps, PTSD? Things Violet did not know. The investigation brings things to light, about her husband and friend. What would make him do such a drastic thing? She must get her son back. Could Missed Connections be the answer once again?
From Finn, Caitlin, to Violet, the suspense and emotions are high. Violet soon learns Finn was not the husband and man she thought he was at all. He was a kidnapper.
Finn soon blackmails Caitlin. George is a powerful man and comes from prestigious political family. Caitlin knows his reputation is at stake. Finn wants to hide out in their Kentucky remote cabin until he gets his head on straight.
Now Caitlin is caught between her best friend, Violet and sympathizes with her being a mother— to being fearful that Finn could ruin her own marriage and family with a secret. Guilt and fear. The consequences were terrifying.
Dark secrets from the past.
Lined up perfectly, yet so many things crossed their path. The first time they met. Years later. The reconnection. What had happened during all those years in between?
Finn knew he needed to give back Bear to Violet; however, could not stand to let him go. He could no longer see a way for them both to have him together. He could not see a way for Violet to remain in his life at all. Not after everything that had happened.
The metaphor. The dominoes.
“There had been 1,001 chances and reason for them not to end up together. And there was really only one chance, and really only one reason, for it to go the other way.”
Finn’s survivor guilt (Maribel), is at the heart of the story. Caitlin and Violet are secondary.
Wow! Strawser delivers an intriguing debut. Complex, well-written, and unputdownable. Readers will be frustrated, nerve-wracked, and engaged all at the same time. The showdown at the cabin will have you on pins and needles. For fans of mystery, domestic suspense, psychological, and contemporary.
So many questions . . . False or real? Trust. Life, marriage, friendships, love?
Do you really know the people you are friends with and the person you are married to? Why do people choose to ignore all the signs? Do we settle?
However, as they say, “Life is like an elevator. On your way up, sometimes you have to stop and let some people off.”
We all have looked back at a job offer in California, New York, Arizona, or a life choice? The what ifs? How would my life be different if I had made a different choice? Taken an alternate path. Two roads. Which one? Will the outcome be the same, or dramatically different?
Whether you have or have not had a chance encounter in your lifetime, a special person, time or place, ALMOST MISSED YOU will make you contemplate. The what if? An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.
In a recent online interview with the author:
. . . “The idea for ‘Almost Missed You’ comes from my own fascination with the idea of fate and the importance people put on meeting ‘the one,’ and on what’s supposedly meant to be,” Jessica explains. “We place such cultural importance on how couples meet, how paths cross and fates intertwine. I wanted to explore if that’s always for the best.”
She indeed accomplishes her goal.
From Cincinnati, OH, a remote cabin in Kentucky to some of my familiar places I have lived and worked: Asheville, NC, Sunny Isles (North Miami), and St. Augustine, FL . . . the author takes us on a journey. How these places, people, things . . . connect and bring together the story of memories, what happened and what did not.
Cannot wait to see what comes next!
For fans of Kimberly S. Belle, Paula Treick DeBoard, Renee Carlino, Colleen Hoover, Kate Moretti, Laura McNeill, and Emilie Richards. Some of my favorites.
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy.
* * * * *
On a side note: We all can analyze fate, destiny, chance, luck. Not dwell on; or overthink, just a fun exercise.
Many readers will go back and reflect on their own past. The time we did not want to go out. A girlfriend persuades you to go. That night of all night, the same roof top attic wine bar down the street you have been hundreds of times. The one night. You meet a guy. He is younger. You connect in every way. You do not realize the place is closing. Your friends have long gone. Where did this person come from? Your soul mate?
You allow the evening to end, there at the pub. You exchange numbers. He calls for a proper date. It is fate. This person was put in your life for a reason. You have never met anyone like him. A purpose. For two years you are inseparable. It ends. He buried your faithful golden retriever Duke (15 yrs old) at his former home on Lake Lanier. You both live in Atlanta. You are connected on so many levels- family, friends. Life gets in the way. He moves to Utah. You move to Florida. However, you may or may not ever meet this person again. Or will you? Someone, you will not forget. A time, a season, and a purpose . . . Your life was enriched due to this chance meeting.
Or perhaps the boy you met when you were thirteen and he was sixteen. In Florida on vacation with your parents. He a surfer from California with his grandparents. He wants you to go out with them. Your parents will not allow you to go. He leaves the following morning with a note left for you at the hotel desk. A teenager is crushed. What could have been if you parent's had not stood in the way? I still bring this up to my parents, yet today. :)
“Perfect for readers looking for something new after all of the ‘Girl’ thrillers … Gritty, witty, and a worthy addition to the recent slate of domestic dramas.” —Booklist Online
“Strawser’s explanation of marriage, its expectations, and motherhood are spot-on, making for an absorbing read.” —Publishers Weekly
“A book worth losing sleep over.” —RT Book Reviews
“Fans of smart women’s fiction mixed with a fast-paced plot should not miss this startling first novel.” —Library Journal
“Almost Missed You is an emotional powerhouse of a novel, filled with complex relationships and difficult choices, the secrets we keep, and the lies we tell to those we love while hoping to shield them from harm. Strawser’s tale of guilt, blame, redemption, and forgiveness is a must read for anyone who enjoys a well-told, compelling exploration of the human heart.” ―Garth Stein New York Times best selling author of A Sudden Light and The Art of Racing in the Rain
"Almost Missed You is the sensational debut novel by the gifted Jessica Strawser who has expertly woven a tale of a marriage in crisis with elements of daring, danger, mystery and secrets that will surprise and delight you. You will revel in the triangle of Violet and Finn, the perfect couple until they weren't, and Caitlin, Finn's best friend, who is pulled into the drama while hiding a secret of her own. This is a rich read which will keep you turning pages long into the night. Glorious!" ― Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of All The Stars in Heaven
"Taut, emotional, satisfies with its gripping blend of painful secrets and fateful connections." ― National Book Award and PEN USA finalist Deb Caletti
"Jessica Strawser writes from the heart." ― New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline
"Jessica Strawser’s richly textured debut novel never lets the reader forget that love is a complex equation, in which attraction and affection are balanced by the cost of forgiveness, the obligation of friendship, and the pain of loss. Compelling fiction from a brave new voice." ― Bestselling author Sophie Littlefield
"A thought-provoking debut about the true cost of emotional stress fractures and the jolts that finally crack them open. Strawser’s novel is layered with secrets, and will stay with you long after you finish reading." ― Therese Walsh, author of The Moon Sisters
"Jessica Strawser hits all the right notes in her memorable debut. With twists big and small, the story is at turns heart-rending, unexpected, and delightfully devious. ALMOST MISSED YOU will give book clubs plenty to argue about, and the reader much to contemplate." ― Michelle Gable,New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment and I'll See You in Paris
"In ALMOST MISSED YOU, debut author Jessica Strawser meticulously weaves together a kidnapped child, friends in turmoil, and a Craigslist ad into a tangled web of secrets, lies, and unexpected alliances. This heart-breaking page-turner will make you question how well you really know everyone you hold dear." ― Amy Sue Nathan, author of The Glass Wives
"Almost Missed You is a rare sort of a book, one part page-turner, one part love song to motherhood, and one part examination of the things we owe each other in friendship. It is by turns tender, sharp, and thoughtful, and always impossible to put down. Book clubs will love this tale of friendship, marriage, and the things we do for love." ― Barbara O'Neal, author of How to Bake A Perfect Life
"Once in a great while, along comes a novel that defies the odds, a true mystery that bars no holds and plays no tricks, leaving the reader both deeply moved and thoroughly astonished. Almost Missed You is just such a book, a debut that asks if we can ever really know another human being, by a writer’s writer with talent to spare. You may not have heard of Jessica Strawser today, but by tomorrow, everyone’s going to be talking about her and about this story." ― Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean
"Almost Missed You is a skillful, insightful debut: a deft exploration of the mysteries of marriage, the price we pay for our secrets, and just how easy it is to make the worst choices imaginable." ― Chris Bohjalian, New York Times bestselling author of The Sandcastle Girls and Midwives
About the Author
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 March 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.
Her diverse career in the publishing industry spans more than 15 years and includes stints in book editing, marketing and public relations, and freelance writing and editing. She blogs at WritersDigest.com and elsewhere (if you’d like a guest post, contact me!), tweets fairly regularly @jessicastrawser (please do say hello), enjoys connecting on Facebook, and speaks at writing conferences and events that are kind enough to invite her.
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