The acclaimed debut novel by award-winning author Holly Goddard Jones. When a town's fiery single woman is found dead in the woods, it's not just her secrets that threaten to surface.
In The Next Time You See Me , the disappearance of one woman, the hard-drinking and unpredictable Ronnie Eastman, reveals the ambitions, prejudices, and anxieties of a small southern town and its residents. There's Ronnie's sister, Susanna, a dutiful but dissatisfied schoolteacher, mother, and wife; Tony, a failed baseball star turned detective; Emily, a socially awkward thirteen-year-old with a dark secret; and Wyatt, a factory worker tormented by a past he can't change and by a love he doesn't think he deserves. Connected in ways they cannot begin to imagine, their stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie but all of their secret selves.
"Impressive . . . An eerie air hangs over the novel, but Ms. Jones has a talent for making even scenes apart from the central mystery feel suspenseful. She also has a precise eye and empathy to burn, bringing each of her many characters to well-rounded life." New York Times
The Next Time You See Me
Emily Houchens watched as Christopher Shelton, who sat in a desk two rows up and one over from her own, leaned back and smoothly slid his notebook over his shoulder, so that the boy sitting behind him could read what was written there. This second boy, Monty, began to quake with suppressed laughter. The notebook retracted; an open hand took its place, waiting expectantly, and Monty softly gave him five: Good one. Mrs. Mitchell, who was pacing in her predictable way up and down the aisles while the students worked, had missed the whole exchange, and Emily tucked her chin into her chest to hide the smile on her face. Christopher had the easy luck of an action hero in a movie. Things always worked out for him.
"Five more minutes," Mrs. Mitchell announced, and Emily dragged her attention back to the sheet of paper on her desktop and the meager lines she had written in response to the prompt. It was a Friday, the day their English class focused on test-taking strategies, which everyone hated - even Mrs. Mitchell, Emily suspected. The prompt read:
Painters, like writers, use images, tone, and even characters to convey a theme or emotion in their work.
a. Select an important emotion or image communicated in the novel A Separate Peace.
b. Imagine how a painter might render this same emotion or image on a canvas. Describe this imagined painting, detailing how and why this emotion or symbol is conveyed by choices related to space, color, texture, and shape.
"It's all bullshit," she had heard Christopher tell his friends at lunch one day. She had taken her usual seat - not at the popular table but at one nearby, where she could eat with her back to the group and listen, unbothered and unnoticed, to its conversation. Lunch immediately followed English, and so the subject of Christopher's diatribes was often Mrs. Mitchell, perhaps the only teacher in the seventh- and eighth-grade wings who seemed unimpressed by the charming, handsome boy who'd moved to Roma, Kentucky, last year from Michigan. "I never got a B in Ann Arbor. And that was Ann Arbor. How can some English teacher from the boonies give me a B? You don't even speak English here."
The kids at the table had laughed agreeably.
Now, as Mrs. Mitchell resumed her place at the front of the classroom, Emily brought her paragraph to a hasty conclusion and set her pencil down. Her underarms prickled with heat, and a lump of anxiety formed in her throat. Stupid, stupid to let herself get distracted again by Christopher. The open-response questions were for a grade.
"Cross your t's and dot your i's," Mrs. Mitchell said. The chairs squeaked as students shifted, and there was a chorus of sighs. "Let's read some of these aloud today and discuss them. Can I get a volunteer?"
Emily let her hair hang over her face. Not me, not me, not me, she willed.
She heard snickering and peeked through her bangs. Monty was poking Christopher between the shoulder blades with the eraser end of his pencil, and Christopher jerked in his seat. His hand shot up.
Mrs. Mitchell looked at him warily. "Yes, Christopher?"
"I'll read mine," he said, shooting a satisfied glance back at Monty, who put his head down on the desktop as if a game of Seven-Up had started. Emily could hear him wheezing with laughter.
"Go ahead," said Mrs. Mitchell.
Christopher stood and held his notebook in front of him like an orator. "In A Separate Peace, Finny decides to wear a pink shirt. Some say this is an expression of individuality but I see it as a sign that he is gay