I first read Jessica Strawser's debut novel Almost Missed You soon after buying my copy at her Cincinnati book launch in March. Over the course of this year, I've read several reviews and author interviews that addressed various aspects of the book. The one recurring topic that still strikes me as the most intriguing is the psyche of the much-maligned antagonist of the novel, Finn.
Playing Finn's advocate is a somewhat perilous proposition given the character's reprehensible action at the outset of the novel, his flawed decisions afterwards, and the secrecy of his unspoken past. It's easy to understand why readers would want to vilify Finn, especially those readers with affinity for marriage and family. It's impossible to fathom Finn's behavior, much less condone it.
But as the story progresses and the domestic-suspense plot thickens, a mirror moment is reached where the animosity toward Finn should shift with the revelation of the esence of the story itself.
Without spoiling this scene, I will say that it unfolds in the next chapter after the actual page-number midpoint of the book. It's just a seven-page chapter, but it's the poignant critical mass of Almost Missed You. Even though the scene doesn't explain or justify Finn's actions, it does portray him as a character filled with heart and soul.
Finn clearly was a young man who serendipitously found the love of his life. Together, he and his soulmate seemed destined to share the truest love. This soulmate destiny, however, didn't last. The aftermath that Finn faced illustrates how some emotional wounds don't necessarily always heal with time.
In that respect, Finn is the real protagonist of Almost Missed You for me. While I certainly sympathize with Violet for the turmoil she endures because of the imbalanced Finn, I empathize with Finn for the anguish he's survived.
Such character depth coupled with the pace of the book helped make Almost Missed You my favorite novel published in 2017. If you've almost missed reading it, it's not too late.
Read more about Almost Missed You at JessicaStrawser.com.