The Next Time You See Me By, Holly Goddard Jones
Synopsis from Goodreads: Thirteen-year-old Emily Houchens doesn’t have many friends. She finds more comfort playing make-believe in the woods near her house in Roma, Kentucky, than with her classmates, who find her strange and awkward. When she happens upon a dead body hidden in the woods one day, she decides not to tell anyone about her discovery—a choice that begins to haunt her.
Susanna Mitchell has always been a good girl, the dutiful daughter and wife. While her older sister Ronnie trolled bars for men and often drove home at sunrise, Susanna kept a neat house, a respectable job, a young daughter. But when Ronnie goes missing, and Susanna realizes that she’s the only person in Roma who truly cares about her sister’s fate, she starts to question her quiet life and its value.
The Next Time You See Me is the story of how one woman’s disappearance exposes the ambitions, prejudices, and anxieties of a small southern town and its residents, who are all connected, sometimes in unexpected ways. Emily; Susannah; Tony, a failed baseball star-turned-detective, aspiring to be the county’s first black sheriff; and Wyatt, a fifty-five-year-old factory worker tormented by a past he can’t change and by a love he doesn’t think he deserves. Their stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie but all of their secret selves.
Susanna’s sister Ronnie has gone missing but since she’s kind of the town bad girl no one but Susanna seems to care which gets Susanna wondering if the life she has is the life she wants. Then there is her students Emily & Christopher, Emily is a shy girl from the wrong side of the tracks and Christopher little rich boy with attitude…Ugh Christopher is such a little puke and I don’t understand how Emily can even think of being friends with him. Emily truly needs some serious counseling between her insecurities, self esteem, being bullied and what happened in the woods I hope her parents will get her some help!
Then there is Wyatt a 55 year old overweight factory worker, I liked Wyatt I also felt sorry for him, I felt he’d been bullied his whole life, pretty sure the night at the bar wasn’t the first time he’s been bullied he fell for it all too easily. Thought it was sweet that he and Sara got together and was rooting for them both to find love.
The prayer service for Ronnie made me wonder how often those are done; a prayer for a missing person who wasn’t well liked and didn’t attend church. I agree with Susanna that it all just felt wrong but I can understand that she was feeling like finally people were starting to take her sisters disappearance seriously.
This book was very hard to put down it has bullying of kids and adults, a missing person, a murder, old loves returning and some very, very flawed people but it comes together in a fabulous story. I don’t want to give any spoilers but there was a certain storyline that I hoped would be a red herring and am amazed that the author made me feel bad for a murderer but I was emotionally invested and it was a great twist well an emotional twist for me. All these different characters with nary a thing in common all find themselves thrown into the drama of Ronnie’s disappearance some in ways that will leave you shaking your head in wonder.