"Full of slow-burning intrigue, Strawser's second novel will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies and Jennifer Kitses' Small Hours." Booklist
*Book of the Month Club Selection
An innocent night of fun takes a shocking turn in Not That I Could Tell, the next page-turner from Jessica Strawser, author of Almost Missed You.
When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.
By Monday morning, one of them is gone.
Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorceand the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind herand when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusionsespecially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.
As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doorsand to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Jessica Strawser is the editor-at-large at Writer’s Digest magazine, where she served as editorial director for nearly a decade and became known for her in-depth cover interviews with such luminaries as David Sedaris and Alice Walker. She's the author of the novels Almost Missed You and Not That I Could Tell. She has written for The New York Times' Modern Love, Publishers Weekly and other fine venues, and lives with her husband and two children in Cincinnati.
Read an Excerpt
Ever wonder what your friends really think of you?
I take a lot of care in my appearance, for instance. I'm a small-town doctor's wife, so I need to look the part — even if I don't feel the part. And I have twins enrolled in pre-K at a charter school so obsessed with freethinking it will shove free thoughts down your throat. So I make sure it's obvious to everyone there what happy, healthy, cherished little people my kids are. I never forget to dress them in their pajamas for pajama day. I always sign up to bring the most elaborate snacks to the class parties. I help other moms in the parking lot when their pumpkin seats jam or their strollers collapse. I make a point of knowing all their names.
You probably think I care a lot about what my friends think.
None of this charade is for them.
It's no great accomplishment to get someone to believe a lie. It's not that hard, really. Look at me: doctor's wife, working mom, good neighbor. You've already summed me up, haven't you? You're already filling in the blanks.
But whatever you're writing there, it's not the truth. And that's fine by me. It's easier, knowing you don't know me at all. Because as long as you believe that what you see is what you get, I get to stay this way. Poised. Devoted. Alive.
Everyone's Favorite Place!
— Tagline of the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce
Izzy awoke to a deafening downpour beating on the roof of her little Cape Cod. It reached through the dense fog of heavy sleep, through the punishing pain of the previous night's overindulgence, and tugged at the corner of her conscious mind just enough to pull it aside and reveal the too-familiar memory of Josh hovering there. In an instant, she regretted it all — the last glasses of wine that had brought on this ache and this haze, the humiliation of having told her new neighbors all they never needed to know about Josh, even the purchase of this house that placed the pounding rain just on the other side of the ceiling that sloped down to meet her bed.
How bad had it been? She squinted into the gray morning light, trying to remember exactly what she'd told them. The details of the later hours of the night were murky. She wasn't sure she even recalled the short walk home, come to think of it — alarming, though it was just across the street, and Yellow Springs was about as safe as small Ohio towns came. Funny how the brain could hold on to emotions — the warmth of shared laughter and the happy reckless sense of oh, what the hell, why not were still clear to her now — so much more tightly than the precise words or actions behind them. She usually wasn't one to overdo it on alcohol. But the other women, all moms with young kids, had been so ecstatic to have a night free, even though it was just a gathering around a backyard fire pit, baby monitors in hand — their enthusiasm had been contagious. She remembered Clara, the gracious hostess, leaning forward to refill her glass every time it fell below the halfway point. She must have lost track of how much she was having.
Coffee. She needed coffee. If only there were someone to bring her some.
She pulled a pillow over her head, trying to muffle the rain. It might as well have been pounding directly on her skull.
Normally, she would have chastised herself for wasting a day with a hangover of this caliber, but the downpour ruined her plans anyway. In a phase of her life that had somehow become defined by putting on a good face, Sunday mornings were reserved for slipping away. Her weekly hike was no ordinary trek. She'd discovered the most miraculous convergence of nature and faith in a nearby ravine, and it drew her like a magnet — the need to find peace. But in rain like this, the steep inclines of the trail would be too muddy, too hazardous. One wrong step, and she could be in the river. And no one would know she'd been swept away.
She could think of absolutely no reason to get out of bed.
Residual sadness — that's all this was. Up until last night's unfortunate slip, she'd been doing much better about not thinking of Josh. Really. She had. She was here, wasn't she? Starting over, on her own.
She would allow herself a day — one day only — to recover, in the physical sense and the emotional. Given the ruined-before-they-started plans and the should-have-known-better remnants of last night churning in her stomach, she would consider the rain lucky.
She would make some coffee and climb back under the covers and nurse the throbbing in her head and revel in the luxury of doing it alone. No — undisturbed. That sounded more appealing.
And under no circumstances would she allow herself to imagine how her sister might be spending her own rainy Sunday back home, a twenty-minute drive away in Springfield. How Penny and Josh would awaken lazily in their bed, with the quiet confidence of newlyweds, in the master bedroom of the house where Izzy and Penny had spent their childhoods. How the heavy rain would pool on the back porch, beneath the gutter that was always clogged, and leak in through the cracked weather stripping of the kitchen door. Whether Josh would think of Izzy even once as he tiptoed past her old room, down the worn carpet of the stairs, over the puddle on the linoleum, and to the stove to make breakfast. Whether he was the sort of husband who'd call Penny down to eat, or whether, on second thought, he'd take a tray up to her — and keep her occupied in bed for as much of the day as she'd let him.
She would think of anything but that.
* * *
"How 'bout that rain yesterday?" Sonny called through Izzy's open office door by way of greeting. "I almost built an ark, but then I realized I'd be trapped in an even smaller space with my kids climbing the walls. Then I'd really need God on my side to survive the flood!" He laughed at his own joke, and she heard Day join in with one of her signature giggles. They must have walked in together.
"But you only need two of everything for the ark, right?" Day said. "Maybe you could have left one behind!" They laughed again.
Izzy adjusted her face to hide her distaste. As the producer of the station's morning radio show, she was always in the office a solid hour before the rest of the crew. Usually she relished the quiet prep time, even if she did have to wake at 4 A.M. to get it. But today being Monday, she'd found her in-box buried in an avalanche of email — mostly wire service alerts about yet another shooting on a college campus, this one at Saturday night's football game between division rivals in Indiana. She and her neighbors had been chatting under the stars on Clara's new stone patio blissfully unaware of the tragedy befalling dozens of perfect strangers just across the state line. Worse, she'd spent yesterday moping around like the personification of a first-world-problems hashtag, as if her own tragedy even counted as one.
That her job was to sift through all that misery in search of less real news that might be more suitable for group discussion led by chipper pop radio DJs had filled her cup of self-loathing to overflowing. And now here was the on-air talent, complaining about the rain.
"Good thing today's a Sonny Day!" she called out, forcing cheer into her voice. She gathered her laptop, notes, and printouts of today's agenda and motioned for them to follow her to the conference room for their briefing. She hoped she'd found enough clickbait to fill time — another boy band star posting ill-advised selfies, a survey about what men really think of their wives' bodies postbaby, a reason working out less might actually be good for you.
"Oh boo!" Day replied. Sonny Keller's name really was Sonny. And Amy Day's surname really was Day. Coming up with their on-air monikers had been too easy — though tolerating them in the flesh was another matter. The listeners seemed to find Sonny and Day to be great company, but Izzy felt their particular brand of energy was a bit much. The fact that this made her perhaps not the best fit for this job was one she chose to ignore. Freshly Squeezed had been Dayton's top morning show for five years running. It was an easy twenty-minute commute from Yellow Springs — better than the drive from Springfield had been — paid well, and looked great on her résumé. Not that she had any immediate plans to use her résumé for anything, but you never knew.
Sonny plopped heavily into a swivel chair and rubbed his hands together. "Tell me we've got something juicy for Second Date Update."
Izzy settled at the table and glanced at the clock: 5:45. In fifteen minutes, she'd join the pair in the studio and feed them buzz from their social media accounts throughout the show, but she never spoke on air. Josh used to call her "The Wizard of Iz," the woman behind the curtain — back when they'd been best friends who could tease each other about anything. And talk to each other about everything. Except the one thing she should have said but never did. And then, like a girl in a predictable rom-com, she'd missed her chance. In the movies, the guy always realized, just in time, what had been right in front of him all along: the perfect match of his gal pal, who looked beautiful with her hair down and her glasses off. In the movies, he did not actually go through with marrying her little sister. And if he did, what would happen next? How would the film end? It would have helped Izzy to have some model for how to shut off her feelings, though she was desperately trying. If Sonny and Day only knew about the silent drama playing out before them, they'd have a field day. She suspected they found her quite dull.
"We've got something juicy, all right, but we can't air it."
"Our very first preemptive email requesting that just in case a certain woman were to write in about ... what were his words?" Izzy riffled through her printouts. "Ah, yes. If she were to write in about what might have been misconstrued as a date, he does not want a call."
"Yikes. She's that bad?"
"No, he's that married. With four kids."
"That is good. Damn. They're beating us to the punch now? Just when I thought this segment was getting easier now that it's so popular."
When they'd first launched Second Date Update, "adapted" (an industry term for thievery) from similar segments popular on other networks, the DJs had fallen all over themselves telling the people they called on-air that they didn't mean to put them on the spot. It was just that so-and-so wanted to know why they hadn't returned their texts or calls after their first date had seemingly gone so well. A reasonable enough request, can't we agree? But they'd found that those on the receiving end were often more than willing to talk — because no matter what had gone wrong, the idea that someone found them appealing enough to publicly humiliate themselves over was evidently flattering in some backward way.
Izzy felt differently, but she supposed her lack of any first dates whatsoever disqualified her from having an opinion.
"What poor sap do we have on the hook?" Day asked.
"Today you will be making polite inquiries on behalf of a young man who managed to sound sweetly yet awkwardly perplexed in his impassioned email about a magical night at Applebee's, in which he emphasized that he had 'dressed appropriately — really nice.'" She slid a printout of the email across the table.
"I already think he sounds great!" Day chirped. "If this doesn't work out, maybe he can call me!"
Izzy rolled her eyes. The calls essentially boiled down to three types: people who really had no way of knowing what had gone wrong (the girl whose ex-boyfriend had warned off her date while she was in the restroom, for instance), people who were genuinely clueless about their own flaws (mostly egotistical gym rats), and people who were about to get a raw deal for no fair reason.
As it fell to her to select their lucky honorees from the submissions that streamed in daily, Izzy would have shown a little bias toward that last camp if she could have. But it was hard to know what you were getting up front.
* * *
The first thing she noticed wasn't so much Paul — an uncommon presence on the street these days — but the tension radiating from him as he stood, hands on hips, at the end of Kristin's driveway, a look of confusion plain on his face. She knew Kristin and Paul's divorce wasn't finalized yet — Kristin had mentioned it Saturday night, with a matter-of-factness Izzy admired — but still, it was early afternoon on a weekday. Kristin would be at work, the twins at school. Paul had moved out at the start of the summer, just before Izzy moved in. She thought of the house as exclusively Kristin's, though she recognized him from his stops to pick up and drop off the kids.
She swung the car into her driveway and glanced over her shoulder. He was heading her way, white dress shirt unbuttoned at the collar, hands in his pockets, head down. He must be on a late lunch break. Maybe he needed something from the house, but he was going to be out of luck. Izzy didn't know Kristin nearly well enough to have a key, even for neighborly purposes.
"Hi there," he called out as she swung open the door. "Sorry to bother you ..." He jogged the rest of the long diagonal across the street and stopped in front of her with an apologetic smile. "Sorry, we haven't officially met — not sure if you remember me. I'm Paul, Kristin's husband?"
He wasn't easily forgotten. An ob-gyn, he looked every bit the doctor even without the lab coat. It was something about the way he carried himself — with the authority of someone who exuded intelligence but the ease of someone with a practiced bedside manner. And he was good-looking — a polished, wealthy sort of handsome. No way would she have chosen him for her gynecologist, let alone as an obstetrician. It would be unnerving having someone so datable poking around down there, not to mention shepherding you through the dignity-destroying process of childbirth.
"Izzy." She stuck out a hand, feeling suddenly self-conscious of her jeans and v-neck T, as if she hadn't come from a real job like his. He enveloped it in a firm, warm shake.
"You haven't by chance seen Kristin today, have you?"
She shook her head. "Not since Saturday night."
He snapped to attention. "You saw her Saturday?"
"At Clara's. She and Benny got a new fire pit, and we had sort of a girls' night, helping them christen it."
"Were the kids there too?"
"No, it was after their bedtime."
He frowned disapprovingly, even though Clara's house shared a side yard with his own, and suddenly Izzy felt defensive on Kristin's behalf. "Your old baby monitor reached," she said. "They did a test run during the day to be sure."
"Did you happen to notice if she was around yesterday?"
"It was pouring. I never even got out of my pajamas."
"Right. Well, if you see her, could you please have her call me? Immediately?"
She nodded. "Everything okay?"
"I don't know. I got a call at the office. Kristin didn't show up for work, and the twins were no-shows at school. She wasn't answering her phone, so I drove over here. And ... well, they're gone."
"Not home, you mean."
"No. Gone." He ran a hand over his hair. "Kristin had the locks changed, but when no one answered, I was worried — I broke in through a back window. It looks like they've taken off. There are suitcases missing. Stuffed animals. Clothes. Even her mother's china out of the dining room cabinet. And the minivan isn't here."
She frowned. "That's strange. She didn't mention going anywhere. In fact, she was talking about helping to organize some end-of-summer party Abby and Aaron had today."
"That's why the school was so concerned. And there are half-done crafts for that spread all over the kitchen table. Like she just walked out midway through, planning to come back and finish."
Izzy wrinkled her forehead. This didn't seem right at all. "Is her phone going straight to voice mail? I assume you've left messages?"
He removed his hand from his pocket, and in it was a cell phone she recognized instantly. The pink case was customized with a photo of the twins as onesie-clad newborns, curled into one another as if they hadn't yet left the womb.
"Also left on the kitchen table," he said.
A cold chill ran through Izzy.
He turned to gaze at his old house for a minute, then back toward her, looking both paler and more solemn than he had a moment ago. "I guess I'm going to have to call the police."
Excerpted from "Not That I Could Tell"
Copyright © 2018 Jessica Strawser.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Just as amazing as Almost Missed You
Great book. Strong characters. A great community of neighbors. Emotional story about a difficult subject. A twist at the end that I never saw coming.
I wanted to read this book because the description compared it to one of my all-time favorites, Big Little Lies. It was similar to Big Little Lies with the neighborhood of young moms and how their lives are intertwined. It also reminded me of Gone Girl with the writing style and the plot. I would love to see this book turned into a movie. The characters were believable and engaging. The only character I did not love her backstory was Izzy, but it was easy to ignore and I could see how it was important to the story. Without giving a spoiler Izzy’s backstory needed my credibility. It seemed frivolous. One small change to Izzy’s “crisis” would have made it more believable. Towards the ending of the book, there was one chapter where the dialogue became cliché. I thought it was going to be the ending and I would not have liked it as the very ending. You need to keep reading for an ending that does not disappoint. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an intense page-turner with some relatable humor. I plan to read Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser next. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. If this review was helpful to you please click the link below.
Very good domestic suspensor of intertwining stories within a neighborhood. Current and topical, realistic and well done!
Good story, good writing, good time. Glad I picked this one up, will look for more from Jessica Strawser.
Just how much do you know about your neighbors? I found myself caught up in the drama of Kristin and Paul and their neighborhood in this novel. I had originally thought this was a suspenseful novel but as I read, I realized it was more drama than anything. The novel started and ended well but, in the middle, I felt the novel dragged and was going nowhere. I felt like quitting yet I wanted to know what happened to Kristin and her children. The women had gathered, the wine had been poured and the conversation flowed. The wine had flowed too easily that evening and, in the morning, the women in this neighborhood were feeling its effect. On Monday, one of these women was reported missing. Her children were gone also. I think it was the immediate reactions of the women in her neighborhood that got my attention. They were coming up with some interesting theories and her husband, I couldn’t tell if he was in shock or denial. I kept wondering if perhaps the night that they had dinner together and the wine was flowing freely, these women had an interesting conversation that provoked Kristin. Did someone say something? Did anyone hear it or did they not even comprehend what was being said? I was hoping someone would address that night again and see if something was said about Kristin. There has to be a reasonable explanation on why Kristin is gone and why her children are gone also. What things are missing and how frantic does the situation look? I felt like I was solving this mystery on my own. The ending was good and I liked how the pieces came together. It was an okay novel. I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.
I received this book on Netgalley. I was intrigues by all of the women of Yellow Springs. It kept me guessing until the very end. Great mystery and I highly recommend.
I loved that this book was set in Yellow Springs, OH. I've been there several times and I could really picture this neighborhood and the park where Izzy went hiking. The Antioch College and little stores so clear in my mind. I'm not sure I would have liked this book if it were set somewhere else. I feel like this author was trying to write a story like Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. It was written just like Big Little Lies only not as well. From the mystery at the the beginning, to the school getting involved and the police interviews and the women in the neighborhood being best friends, and the tidbits of information at the beginning of each chapter. The more I think about it the more comparisons I can come up with. It was a good story, I liked the characters, but without Yellow Springs, I'm not sure I would have even finished. First sentence: Ever wonder what your friends really think of you? Last sentence: There were so many ways to begin again.
This was my first Jessica Strawser novel and from the moment I started reading I knew this was going to be a story that would keep me curious about what was up with this charming little neighborhood! All the ingredients for a compelling mystery are here - the ladies, the backyard get together, the wine, the sleeping children. What no one realizes is that one of them will soon disappear and detectives will come knocking on doors! You may not know everything about your neighbors or your friends. You may not even remember your last conversation. Some of the ladies turned suspicious eyes to their missing friends doctor husband (who she was divorcing!) while another instead decided to give him a shoulder and an open ear. Who knows....maybe he is hurting too. I loved the characters and the many times they surprised me with their own assumptions about what happened to their friend. Lots of peering through curtains and checking out driveways will lead to an unexpected end. Highly recommend for domestic mystery fans!
In Not That I Could Tell a woman and her twin children disappear after an evening spent with other women in the neighborhood. Kristin was going through a messy divorce, but none of her friends know what might have happened to her, and the details of the night before are a bit hazy since they’d all been drinking. As the police begin their investigation, Paul, Kristin’s husband, moves back in in case Kristin and the kids come back home. The neighbors have their suspicions that Paul might have done something to Kristin, but nothing can be proven. This book will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty’s writing. There is a ton of gossip, including a newspaper written by a young girl in the neighborhood, and some great female relationships, not to mention suspense and secrets. I enjoyed getting to know the different characters, and I needed to know what happened to Kristin. This book was enjoyable, although it didn’t blow me away. It’s only Jessica Strawser’s second book though, so I am eager to see what she comes up with next. http://opinionatedbooklover.com/review-not-that-i-could-tell-by-jessica-strawser/
I found time in March to read Jessica Strawser’s wonderful, suspenseful book. Not That I Could Tell hooked me in the first paragraph. First off, it takes place in the most charming little town in Ohio, Yellow Springs (although my town, Delaware, is a close second). So that hooked me. But the story starts off with a bunch of women, mothers of young children, who get together for a night of wine around a backyard bonfire. Now, their homes sounds much more charming than my cookie cutter neighborhood, but other than that, it could be my friends and neighbors. We’ve all been known to throw back a few glasses (bottles?) of wine on evenings nice enough for a bonfire. It’s the next morning, though, when the cul-de-sac wakes up and realizes that one of the mothers has disappeared with her preschool aged twins. Kristin and her husband were in the midst of a divorce, so all eyes are on him. And the neighbors, because they were the last ones to see her. But no one remembers a thing about that night. As the news trucks descend on Yellow Springs and their quite street, all the neighbors are forced to examine how well they really know each other, and whether they should know more about their neighbors’ lives. Their neighborhood pulls closer as they deal with the disappearance, the media scrutiny, and the drama of their own lives. Even through all the busy-ness that is my life right now, I found it hard to put this book down. Strawser writes these women so well I felt like I knew them. The story of domestic violence (two characters have abuse as part of their stories), come from the questions that “haunted” Strawser after she lost a friend to domestic violence, making the story, and Clare’s perspective, so much more real. Please be assured that I’m not giving anything away by talking about domestic violence. Clare’s backstory includes a brush with violence, and no one is sure what happened to Kristin, or why she was divorcing her husband. So domestic violence is a logical road to travel. As the rain pours down today in Central Ohio, I can only think that this is the perfect book for such a day. Engrossing and suspenseful. I recommend Not That I Could Tell with my loudest recommendation voice. It’s nearly perfect, with an ending that caught me by surprise (and that doesn’t happen often!).
The neighborhood women get together for a girls night. They all drink too much and enjoy a no kids evening. After the evening is over, one of the mothers disappears along with her children. Was she kidnapped, did she run, what exactly happened? This is a very unique plot. The reader is kept guessing most of the way through it. Kristin could be in an abusive relationship. Maybe this is why she left. Maybe she was kidnapped. Maybe she just picked up and took her kids and said enough. All the women are questioned by the police. And none of them have a clue. I was captivated by Kristin’s plight. However, this has a lot of domesticity in it, fixing of lunches, household chores, etc… I skimmed several places. Really didn’t have much to do with the story. It also did not take away from it either. Just was not something I was very interested in. But, the mystery behind Kristin’s disappearance kept me glued into this tale. This novel has great characters which really add to story and I applaud the author for a creating a distinctive and uncommon plot! I received this novel from Netgalley and the publisher for a honest review.
Not That I Could Tell – Jessica Strawser I was fortunate to receive this novel as an Advance Reader Copy, in exchange for an objective review. An innocent wine filled Saturday night around a campfire amongst six neighborhood women with baby monitors in hand, sharing laughter and life. But the next day, one of these women is missing, with the evidence pointing to a hasty departure – children, clothing, luggage and money all missing. Did she really leave of her own free will? Or did her estranged husband have something to do with her disappearance?? This novel takes you on an intriguing ride, as you see the investigation unfold through each of the women’s eyes. Kristin has vanished, an event that comes to light on early Monday morning, after her estranged husband Paul, receives a call from school, reporting that the children are not there. Puzzled, he comes to the house they once shared, looking for her, only to discover that certain items are missing from the home, with evidence of a hasty departure present. Mystified, Paul calls the police. Clara and Isabel, two of Kristin’s closest neighbors, are also stymied by her disappearance. After interviews with the investigating Detective, Claire realizes how little she truly knew about her friend, and doubts begin to fill her head about Kristin’s estranged husband Paul. These doubts are further fueled when detectives report that Kristin had researched domestic violence in the hours prior to her disappearance. The story unfolds through the eyes of Clara and Isabel, as well as past musings of Kristin, as time passes and no evidence of Kristin’s whereabouts can be found. Clara’s doubts about Paul grow, while Isabel, whom recently lost the love of her life in a strange twist of fate, struggles with loneliness, and finds herself feeling sorry for, and drawn to, Kristin’s bereaved husband. Is Paul a jilted husband, or something far more sinister? I have never read anything from this author before, and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! One finds herself rooting for Kristin in the hopes that she escaped safely, all the while wondering is Paul is as innocent as he seems. Izzy and Clara become close to your heart as you learn about their lives and their concerns for their missing friend. As the novel races towards a stunning and somewhat predictable conclusion, it ends with a sweet surprise that ties it all together. I LOVED this book!!
3.5 Several neighbor women connect one night to sit outside and drink some wine. The next day, one of them disappears with her two children. This happens right up front and the rest of the novel is based on understanding how each of the women left behinds tries to interpret the disappearance through her own beliefs and past experiences. After reading the overview, I thought I had a pretty good idea on how this story was going to go down. Initially, when it wasn't going my way. I was a bit put off. But in the long run, I liked the author's version much better. We get to spend time with each of the women individually and collectively as they process their own thoughts and interact with each other. I thought the story came to a very interesting conclusion. All in all, I found this to be an enjoyable read. From St. Martin's press via Netgally.
I loved this book. Quick read and kept me guessing how it was going to end up until the end.
This is a very well written, character driven story. I felt very comfortable with the neighborhood ladies and their families. The game of hide and seek is spot on! I didn't feel that this was really a thriller, but it is a fast and enjoyable read. Ms. Strawser does a terrific job of pulling you into this neighborhood and the lives of the families. And while there doesn't seem to be a lot of twists to this tale, you do get some surprises. I would most certainly read more by this author. **Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley in exchange of an honest review.**
I loved her first novel so I knew this one would be good and it did not disappoint! When friends have a "girls' night" at one of their homes, they have no idea that by the next morning one of them will have disappeared with her twins. Because she's going through a divorce, there is speculation about what could possibly have happened and suspicion initially turns to her doctor husband, but with no leads the investigation eventually meets a dead-end. But the novel focuses on her friends and how they react to her disappearance. Dealing with themes of family, friendship, love, betrayal, and domestic violence, this novel reveals relationships at their best (and worst) but is well-written and deeply satisfying! Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC
Izzy is waking up realizing she drank too much last night and blabbed too much to her new neighbors. Since it’s Sunday and pouring rain, she decides to stay in bed. Izzy is the producer of a morning radio show. Neighbors Clara and Benny have a new patio so the women “christened” it Saturday night by sitting, chatting, and drinking. They are the parents of two small children. Neighbor Natalie has a 12-year-old daughter, Hallie, who helps Clara after school. Other neighbors are a happy and loving lesbian couple with a baby daughter. Neighbors Kristin and Paul, who is an OB-GYN, and parents of twins, have recently separated. The twins are from Kristin’s first husband who died. Now, Kristen has not shown up for work on Monday, the twins are not at school, and Paul is worried. Suitcases and clothes are missing, but things are left as if they will be right back. So, Paul calls the police. All six of these women had been together Saturday night having a good time. Now, there’s just five of them. Soon, the press is stationed outside their houses trying to talk to one of them and the police come to question them as well. The story follows each of the women in their everyday lives with their spouses and children. Paul is living in Kristin’s house hoping she will contact him or return home. This book started out promising to be a thriller but failed to achieve that goal. I couldn’t get over the pre-school Clara’s son was attending and their “attitude.” (Can’t say more as it’s a spoiler.) I never could figure out Izzy’s “relationship” with Josh. Huh? (Again, a spoiler.) The ending let me down too. I just was not impressed by this book. However, as this is the first book by this author that I have read, I am interested in reading more of her books. Perhaps, this was just a one off for me. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Jessica Strawser's novel Almost Missed You was a very impressive debut last year, and her latest release Not That I Could Tell doesn't disappoint either. This novel of domestic suspense explores the effects on a group of women who had enjoyed a neighborly backyard get together but the following morning one of them is gone. What happened to Kristin, the respected doctor's wife and busy mother of young twins? And where are the children? Rather than focusing on the mystery or the police investigation involved, the story unfolds mostly from the alternating points of view of two of the neighborhood women. The reader becomes closely familiar with Kristin's best friend, Clara, and how the aftermath of Kristin's disappearance affects her and her family. Then there is Izzy, the only single woman in the group. She has been dealing with her own personal nightmare and the happenings in the neighborhood force her to re-evaluate her own life. These neighborhood novels seem to be en vogue currently. I've certainly read a few of them recently, and Not That I Could Tell ranks among the better ones. One of the strong points here is definitely Ms. Strawser's skillful characterization of all the players involved. They are believable. They are relatable. The characters evoke emotions. However, if you're expecting a fast-paced, suspenseful thrill, you will probably be disappointed. This is much more about relationships, parenting and life in the suburbs. Not dissimilar to Liane Moriarty. Overall, it was an enjoyable and interesting read but I wasn't completely gripped by it. I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys general contemporary women's fiction. 3.5 stars rounded up. I received an ARC via NetGalley.
I am totally digging the story telling abilities of Jessica Strawser. This book is about neighbors/ friends and their reactions and the aftermath when one of them disappears with her twin children overnight. What a page turning mystery that I just couldn’t put down until I got to the bottom of it. Then, just when I thought I had everything figured out, bam!! I never saw that coming! This is such a good book! The characters are wonderful especially those we get to know the most like Izzy and Clara. I am such a fan of this author and I look forward to more from her!
Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser is a highly recommended domestic mystery. In the small town of Yellow Springs, Ohio, a group of neighborhood women spend a Saturday night drinking wine, baby monitors in hand, around a backyard fire pit. This is a rare night of kid-free adult interaction for most of the women and they all drink too much, share too much personal information, and regret it all the next morning. But, even more shocking than their hangovers and over-sharing, is that one of them is missing the next day. Kristin and her twins have disappeared overnight. It appears that a few things have been packed up, but her cell phone has been left behind, and the three have vanished. Kristin was in the process of divorcing her husband, Paul, an ob/gyn doctor, who called the police after he discovered evidence that the three had left. As the police question the neighbors, the women's recollection of the evening is fuzzy and incomplete due to the amount of wine they consumed. Clara, Kristin's next door neighbor, thought she was close to her friend, but is shocked when she learns things that her friend never shared with her. New neighbor, Izzy, didn't know Kristin well at all and is trying not to be judgmental. She is more worried about the private secret she shared with the women. As the investigation unfolds, suspicion is high on Paul, who appears in his public statement to be more interested in a potential monetary settlement from the divorce than actually cooperating with the police investigation. Kristin's last computer search seems to indicate she was concerned about spousal abuse. The news vans are circling the neighborhood, looking for a scoop. How well did the neighbors know Kristin - or Paul? Chapters alternate between Clara and Izzy, with excerpts from a personal journal of an unnamed person opening chapters. You meet all the neighbors through Clara and Izzy's interactions with them. Clara is a wonderful character. She is deeply concerned about Kristin's disappearance as she experienced an incident years before that has scarred her and made her cautious and suspicious over Paul's statement and actions. Izzy, portrayed as way-too self-absorbed for me, really created her own drama and problems based on the big-hush-hush secret that she shared. It was a struggle to relate to her and what she felt was important. The quality of the writing is good and the plot moves along evenly, not frantically, as more information is slowly revealed. There are no huge surprises here, but it is a well told story with a satisfying ending. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of St. Martin's Press.
Jessica Strawser brings us an intriguing tale about loveable people that feel like good friends. This is a fast read, an interesting puzzle, and a sound ending. Involving family violence, there are authentic assists offered both as advice and an afterword. We all know someone who needs help, either literally or figuratively. This novel is a good wake-up-call and how-to-guide, masquerading as an excellent novel. I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Jessica Strawser, and St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
Not That I Could Tell caught my interest. I was in the mood to read a mystery. The synopsis called to me. What I wasn’t expecting was how into the book I got. And believe me, that is a good thing. Not That I Could Tell had a very basic plotline. A popular, well-known mom who is going through a divorce disappears without a trace. Her soon to be ex-husband, a popular gynecologist, discovers them gone. Clara, their closest neighbor, is dragged into the case. Another neighbor, Izzy, befriends the ex-husband while battling her own demons. Everything comes together in an explosive ending that has a massive twist at the ending. I enjoyed that the author kept Kristin’s disappearance under wraps. The reader finds out what happens to her in a letter or statement at the beginning of every other chapter or so. So many scenarios went through my head while reading, it wasn’t even funny. So I wasn’t expecting what was revealed at the very end of the book. I liked Clara and I kind of felt bad for her. She got sucked into the drama. Her mother’s helper decided to start a newsletter and the first thing she writes about? Kristin’s disappearance. She illegally taped a conversation between Kristin’s soon to be ex-husband and the police. She also put Clara’s name on it as a contributor. Which brought an added scrutiny to Clara’s life. It also brings up memories that Clara has tried to forget. Memories that make Clara wonder what exactly was going on at Kristin’s house. I felt awful for Izzy. She couldn’t win in this book. Her sister marries the love of her life. Then she finds out news that sends her into a downward spiral. Then her father tells her that she needs to stop acting the way she was acting. Everything was not going her way. The only thing that even looked good for her was the friendship she had with Kristin’s ex-husband. And even that…well, read the book. I loved the ending of Not That I Could Tell. While I saw what happened to Izzy happening, I did not see the twist coming. It blindsided me. But looking back, I could see small hints of it in the book. So, kudos to the author for doing that!! Not That I Could Tell is a well-written drama that shocked me at the end of the book. The characters were fleshed out. The plot was fantastic. I couldn’t get over the twist at the end of the book. Talk about being blindsided.
I was so excited to get my hot little hands on Jessica Strawser's second novel and I wasn't disappointed. One night goes terribly awry amongst neighbors and friends and when the women wake up in the AM, bleary-eyed, one of them, Kristin, has disappeared, taking her children with her, leaving an estranged husband in her wake. Each of the women wracks their brain to make sense of the disappearance as their neighborhood is turned upside down in the midst of the investigation. Strawser is a master of painting believable, well-defined characters. Clara is a likable protagonist and Izzy made me want to shake her most of the time and Kirstin, while absent, was just as much of a character as the rest of them. The book is a page-turner and it kept me guessing all the way until the end. Bravo, bravo!
Found myself doing a great deal of skimming throughout this book. Plot was okay with a twist at the end. Characters did not make me feel for the life they were experiencing. Pretty predictable for the most part. Domestic Violence is the shadow that keeps appearing without the edgy conclusion. Was left wanting to know more about some characters that were unexplored and less of some that were just not noteworthy. "A copy of this book was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."