I began reading The Next Time You See Me: A Novel expecting a scary read. It’s not. Luckily I read more than just thrillers and found other reasons to enjoy the book. Try to imagine it more as just a regular fiction/literature book with a bit of a mystery thrown in and you won’t be disappointed.
The mystery begins when 13 year old outcast, Emily Houchens discovers a body in the woods. Some other reviewers found it unbelievable that she didn’t immediately run home and tell her parents. I didn’t. Emily is taunted and bullied at school, at home her mentally challenged brother gets all the attention, this body is the one thing that Emily can control.
The small town setting allows for all of the characters to seamlessly mesh together. The body may be the sister of Emily’s teacher. Emily’s teacher may be falling in love with the detective assigned to her case (a boy she knew in high school).
Most of the characters in the book are flawed. They are either really truly flawed or people perceive them as flawed. Emily is an outcast, called a freak. Wally is a chubby loner, called “Tubs” at work. Christopher is the golden boy, almost unable to control his behavior because it’s what is expected of him. Ronnie, the wild girl, intent on having fun. I really didn’t like any of the characters, except for Boss, the dog. But that didn’t keep me from enjoying the book.
I enjoyed the writing, In the following section, Christopher is reflecting on his mother, while he waits for her to determine his punishment for a cruel act against Emily:
“She was a fixture in his life, a neutral – at most, perhaps a reflective surface. He checked her face to make sure that he was loved, forgiven, approved of, amusing; he checked to determine if he was in trouble. He paid attention only to the things she said that concerned him. He was the center of her life – he knew this, had not considered it could be otherwise – so most of what she said concerned him.”
All in all, I enjoyed the book. Not a mystery, more of a character study.