- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Touchstone (February 12, 2013)
- ISBN-10: 145168336
- Source: Publisher
Set in a small town in Kentucky, The Next Time You See Me is, at its core, is an examination of life in remote America and the characters that populate it. Emily is a loner, often called freaks by her classmates. She routinely takes walks through the woods but today’s walk delivers the most unexpected and brutal of discoveries: the body of a young woman. Rather than telling her parents or the authorities, Emily visits the body on a daily basis, finally having access to something that no one else is aware of. Eventually, she confides in her crush, her classmate Chris. Chris is one of the popular students, only reluctantly agreeing to follow Emily into the woods due to guilt he feels for a particularly cruel incident in the lunchroom. Once they arrive, however, the body is missing, solidifying Chris’ belief that Emily is strange, a freak.
Susanna Mitchell is Emily’s teacher. Her sister, Ronnie Eastman, has gone missing. Ronnie was known for her wild ways so no one else seems to be concerned with her disappearance. Only after Susanna is able to track down proof of her disappearance that the local police will give her any attention.
Wyatt is a factory worker, a loner in his own right. He agrees to go out with his fellow workers one evening. What results will irreparably change his life, and the life of the townspeople, forever.
What connects each of these characters is Ronnie herself; each character interacting with her in some way, eventually leading up to her disappearance.
While investigation into her disappearance would seem to be the main plot point in this novel, it is actually a minor one. What stands out, what makes this novel such a memorable and impacting read, are the characters. They are not remarkable, far from it in fact, instead incredibly somber and lonely characters. None of them have had much success in life, barely making ends meet, a seemingly common thread among all the residents of Roma, Ky.
Goddard Jones’ intimate study of these characters is what makes this novel stand out from others in this genre. They each demand a great deal of sympathy from the reader, Goddard Jones’ writing creating characters so believable and genuine. The intense climax that brings all of the characters together isn’t exactly unexpected but still dramatically powerful and heart-wrenching.
Fans of literary fiction, thrillers, and character-driven novels are certain to find this book just as memorable and thought-provoking as I have. Highly recommended.