Published March 28, 2017
St. Martin’s Press
4.5 Stars !!
Many of us know of at least one couple that seems as though they were just meant to be together, that fate stepped in and put them in each other’s path. So after reading the description for Jessica Strawser’s debut novel, ALMOST MISSED YOU, I was intrigued.
I used to read the “missed connections” section of Craigslist quite often. I always wondered if people ever came across messages that were left for them and if it led to anything more.
The book opens in the present, August 2016. Violet and her husband Finn are on vacation in Florida. Their first vacation with their three-year-old son, Bear. Violet can’t remember the last time she felt so relaxed. Since becoming a mother, relaxing is a foreign word. Becoming a mother…becoming Bear’s mother has been the most rewarding thing she’s ever done. The love she feels for her little boy only grows in its intensity.
Life was good.
Everyone loves hearing the story of how Violet and Finn got together. People call it fate and said they were just meant to be. She feels so lucky. To be loved the way Finn loves her, the gift of their precious baby boy.
“her heart had never felt so full”
She quit her job to stay home with Bear. Violet occasionally fantasizes about some time alone. Her husband has taken their son up to their hotel room for a nap, so she’s relaxing on the beach with her book and a Piña colada. But all she can think about is Bear. She may have wanted a little time alone but now that she’s had it, she wants to be there when her baby boy wakes up from his nap.
When Violet gets up to the hotel room she’s excited to see if Bear is awake. But she opens the door to a silent room, devoid of their mess from earlier. The wet swimsuits and towels, open suitcases, toys…none of it is there. She thinks she must be in the wrong room, but then she sees her purse, her toiletries, all of HER things are still there.
But all traces of Finn and Bear are gone.
****Possibly very minor spoilers. I am probably being overly cautious as most of this is in the description or the first part of the book but I decided to add this just in case*****
Caitlin and her husband, George are friends with both Violet and Finn, though Caitlin has been friends with Finn much longer. Why would Finn do this? He has left Violet. How horrible it is to be left by your husband. But to have him take your child too? Nothing is worse than that. How unnatural it would feel with her son gone….like she’s missing a limb.
Caitlin gets home and hears noises coming from upstairs. A man’s voice and a child’s giggle? When the owners of the voices come in to view, a child yells “Auntie Caitlin!” and throws himself at her. It’s Bear. And behind him is Finn.
Her first feeling is relief….until she looks closer at Finn and sees the look on his face.
“You might have gathered that this is not a social call”
Caitlin tells Finn that she is going to call Violet. He tells her that she won’t be calling anyone.
“Mark my words, if you don’t help me, I will tell George the thing we both know you would strongly prefer that George not know”
I wanted to know what he was talking about so badly that I almost skipped forward to check…but I didn’t and remained gripped by the story. I hated having to put the book down. Racking my brain as to what could possibly be so bad that Caitlin would even consider helping Finn.
The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin. Events in the present, mixed with flashbacks shows us how Violet and Finn’s relationship started along with their individual stories in the time they weren’t together. As well, we see how Caitlin and her husband George fit into things. The chapters were dated which definitely helped keep things straight.
It’s apparent very early that everyone involved has secrets, and with each chapter we learn more as these secrets are slowly revealed. The characters are flawed but human with many layers to each of them. We see how their experiences shaped them and their future decisions. I loved how everything was revealed.
How often do we just see what we want to see? How many times have you held back questions because you weren’t sure you truly wanted to know the answers? We don’t always ask the questions that we need to ask.
We think we know someone so well….
I really enjoyed this book. The plot was interesting and the writing was great. The author did a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life, flaws and all. Just like these characters, our experiences, our losses, connections, and missed connections affect us all in different ways. How our choices, both small and large can cause a chain reaction (almost like dominoes). Our secrets can cripple us and often others as well.
Almost Missed You is a novel I won’t soon forget.
Thank you NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Jessica Strawser for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.