Category Archives: Jessica Strawser

Review: The Next Thing You Know by Jessica Strasser

Title: The Next Thing You Know by Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 344 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A musician facing the untimely end of his career. An end-of-life doula with everything, and nothing, to lose. A Star Is Born meets Me Before You in this powerful novel by the author of A Million Reasons Why.

As an end-of-life doula, Nova Huston’s job—her calling, her purpose, her life—is to help terminally ill people make peace with their impending death. Unlike her business partner, who swears by her system of checklists, free-spirited Nova doesn’t shy away from difficult clients: the ones who are heartbreakingly young, or prickly, or desperate for a caregiver or companion.

When Mason Shaylor shows up at her door, Nova doesn’t recognize him as the indie-favorite singer-songwriter who recently vanished from the public eye. She knows only what he’s told her: That life as he knows it is over. His deteriorating condition makes playing his guitar physically impossible—as far as Mason is concerned, he might as well be dead already.

Except he doesn’t know how to say goodbye.

Helping him is Nova’s biggest challenge yet. She knows she should keep clients at arm’s length. But she and Mason have more in common than anyone could guess… and meeting him might turn out to be the hardest, best thing that’s ever happened to them both.

The Next Thing You Know is an emotional, resonant story about the power of human connection, love when you least expect it, hope against the odds, and what it really takes to live life with no regrets.


The Next Thing You Know by Jessica Strawser is a bittersweet novel of friendship, family and healing.

End-of-life doula Nova Huston’s methods are sometimes unorthodox, but they usually yield the desired results. She becomes close to many of her clients and she feels their losses deeply. Nova is willing to work with the hard cases so her friend Kelly Monroe, who also owns the business, quickly passes new client, thirty-six-year-old Mason Shaylor to her. Nova immediately realizes that Mason is going to be a difficult case but will she be able to help him come to terms with what lies ahead of him?

Mason is an indie musician whose hard work has just paid off when he realizes he should not have put off seeing a doctor for concerning symptoms. He is hoping an end-of-life doula will be able to help him make peace with everything he is losing. Mason resists most of Nova’s advice but once she meets him on his terms, he begins to make a little progress. With Nova becoming more involved with easing him through the various steps, they begin to blur the lines between end-of-life doula and client. Will her laidback approach to following the business’s usual guidelines eventually come back to haunt her?

Weaving back and forth in time, The Next Thing You Know is a deeply affecting story of hope, love and loss. Nova is an appealing woman who is trying to live life on her own terms. She is caring, compassionate and very intuitive about the people she works with. Mason is quite taciturn and very stubborn yet there is no doubt he is an immensely gifted musician.  The storyline is poignant and deals with death in frank yet sensitive manner.  The multiple points of view are easy to follow and assist in telling the whole story. With a final heartrending revelation, Jessica Strawser brings this heartfelt novel to a tear-inducing conclusion.

Comments Off on Review: The Next Thing You Know by Jessica Strasser

Filed under Contemporary, Jessica Strawser, Review, St Martin's Press, The Next Thing You Know, Women's Fiction

Review: A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser

Title: A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Jessica Strawser’s A Million Reasons Why is “a fascinating foray into the questions we are most afraid to ask” (Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author)–the story of two women who discover a bond between them that will change both their lives forever.

When two strangers are linked by a mail-in DNA test, it’s an answered prayer—that is, for one half sister. For the other, it will dismantle everything she knows to be true.

But as they step into the unfamiliar realm of sisterhood, the roles will reverse in ways no one could have foreseen.

Caroline lives a full, happy life—thriving career, three feisty children, enviable marriage, and a close-knit extended family. She couldn’t have scripted it better. Except for one thing:

She’s about to discover her fundamental beliefs about them all are wrong.

Sela lives a life in shades of gray, suffering from irreversible kidney failure. Her marriage crumbled in the wake of her illness. Her beloved mother, always her closest friend, unexpectedly passed away. She refuses to be defined by her grief, but still, she worries what will happen to her two-year-old son if she doesn’t find a donor match in time.

She’s the only one who knows Caroline is her half sister and may also be her best hope for a future. But Sela’s world isn’t as clear-cut as it appears—and one misstep could destroy it all.


A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser is a heartfelt novel that is thought-provoking.

Caroline and Walt Porter are happily married with three children under the age of ten.  They are both only children and their parents are a big part of their lives. Caroline works as an event planner and both parents juggle child care duties. When Caroline receives an email from Sela Bell, a woman claiming to be her half-sister, their world is completely upended. Her parents, Fred and Hannah, are shocked at the revelation and their once solid marriage is soon on shaky ground.  As they traverse this unknown territory, Caroline discovers information that leaves her angry and wondering “what might have been”.

With her parents trying to pretend Sela does not exist, Caroline tentatively begins a correspondence with her newfound sibling. They are both careful with the details they share but they soon progress to chatting on the phone. Caroline is delighted to learn she has a nephew, two-year-old Brody. Walt, on the other hand, is suspicious of his new found sister in law’s motive in reaching out to his wife. Caroline’s insistence on getting to know Sela begins to drive a wedge between them that worsens after learning the truth about her sister’s health.

Sela is separated from her husband Doug and works from home as a graphic designer. She was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) during her pregnancy with Brody. She and Doug are living apart but delaying their divorce because she would lose her health insurance.  Getting to know Caroline helps fill a void left by the unexpected death of her mother Rebecca. Sela has another reason for reaching out to her sister, but she is very hesitant to reveal her secrets to Caroline.

A Million Reasons Why is a captivating family-centric novel. Caroline has always been happy with Walt but new details about a man from her past have her questioning if she has made the right choices. Walt is very protective of his wife and his fears could prevent her making a critical decision that also affects someone else. Sela is very conflicted about following through with the reason she contacted Caroline.  The storyline is engaging with subject matter that is well-researched. With a stunning plot twist, Jessica Strawser brings this fraught novel to a surprising conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this informative story to readers of the genre.

Comments Off on Review: A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser

Filed under A Million Reasons Why, Contemporary, Jessica Strawser, Rated B+, St Martin's Press, Women's Fiction

Review: Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

Title: Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Mystery
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


“Forget You Know Me is that book you can’t put down, and can’t stop thinking about when you are finished.” ―Sally Hepworth, bestselling author of The Family Next Door

The secrets it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.

Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit—in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child.

What Liza sees next will change everything.

Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side—but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw.

Or is there?

In disbelief that their friendship could really be over, Liza is unaware she’s about to have a near miss of her own.

And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either.

But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.

Forget You Know Me is a “twisty, emotionally complex, powder keg of a tale” (bestselling author Emily Carpenter) about the wounds of people who’ve grown apart. Best, friends, separated by miles. Spouses, hardened by neglect. A mother, isolated by pain.

One moment will change things for them all.


Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser is an intriguing novel  about friendship and marriage that also features a hint of mystery.

Molly Perkins’ marriage to husband Daniel has become increasingly stressed since their two young children were born. Suffering from chronic pain that she has found no relief from, she  is resentful of Daniel’s dismissal of her struggles. Her lifelong friendship with Liza Green has been one of the few bright spots in her life but they have drifted apart since Liza relocated to Chicago.

Finally reconnecting through a video call, while Molly goes to comfort her daughter, Nori, Liza sees something that compels her to rush to Molly’s side only to be rebuffed upon arrival. Angry and hurt, she returns home only to discover a tragedy that results in her moving back to Cincinnati. With no plans to contact Molly, Liza tries to figure out what comes next for her.

In the aftermath of the video call, both Molly’s and Liza’s lives are forever changed.  Molly is forced to confront her growing resentment toward Daniel and decide whether or not she wants to save her marriage. Despite her somewhat blasé reaction to what Liz witnessed, she becomes increasingly worried about a precarious financial decision she has been keeping secret.

Daniel is finally ready to do something about his fractured marriage but Molly veers between receptive to his overtures and outright angry with him.  He becomes even more anxious as a situation at work begins to  spill over into his personal life. Daniel must make a choice about whether or not he should continue protecting someone else’s questionable choices. He is also quite frustrated once he becomes aware his wife is hiding things from him.

Liza is caught in a bit of a downward spiral after circumstances lead to her decision to move back home. Her anxiety level is out of control as she obsesses over strangers’ misfortunes. Liza is also still very angry over what happened with Molly but she is being pressured by loved ones to salvage their friendship.

With chapters alternating from three different points of view,  Forget You Know Me is an engrossing novel that is thought-provoking. The event that serves as a catalyst for some long overdue introspection simmers in the background as Molly, Daniel and Liza try to decide whether their respective relationships are worth salvaging. Molly and Daniel are somewhat frustrating characters whose lack of communication has lead to a serious breakdown in their marriage. Liza uses humor to deflect attention away from the  problems in her life.  However after a cataclysmic event, she has no choice but to face her fears if she is going to move forward.  Jessica Strawser does an excellent job keeping the truth about what happened the night of Molly and Liza’s video call  carefully under wraps until the novel’s conclusion.  Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the three main characters’ heads as they attempt to unravel the messes they have make of their lives.

An interesting, character driven novel that is emotionally complex yet also carries an inkling of danger.

Comments Off on Review: Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

Filed under Contemporary, Forget You Know Me, Jessica Strawser, Mystery, Rated B, Review, St Martin's Press, Women's Fiction

Review: Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

Title: Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

An innocent night of fun takes a shocking turn in Not That I Could Tell, the next page-turner from Jessica Strawser.

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 divorce—and 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 her—and 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 conclusions—especially 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 doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.


Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser is a tautly woven mystery about a woman and her twins’ inexplicable, middle of the night disappearance. No one, including her estranged husband, the police or her neighbors can decipher whether they left of their own accord or they are the victims of foul play.

Yellow Springs, OH is a quiet community that falls under intense media attention when Kristin Kirkland and her twins vanish after spending the evening with her neighbors. Her closest friend, Clara Tiffin, is stunned by the news and after answering Detective Bryant’s questions, she realizes she does not know Kristin as well as she originally thought. Following their police interviews, neighbors Izzy, Natalie, Randi and Rhoda reach the same conclusion. Detective Bryant and Detective Marks uncover damning information that casts suspicion on Kristin’s estranged husband, popular OB/GYN Dr. Paul Kirkland. Did Kristin and the twins leave on their own? Or is there a much more sinister reason for their disappearance?

Clara is shocked to discover that she is unaware of so much about Kristin’s life. They spent a great deal of time together and she greatly admired her outgoing neighbor. Clara did not know Paul very well since he worked long hours and following Kristin’s disappearance, she is quick to assume he is somehow involved in what happened to her friend. Clara’s husband Benny might not have had much in common with Paul, but he urges her to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Izzy is the only single woman on the block and she is younger than the her neighbors. She is nursing a broken heart and she is a little self absorbed. Unlike the other women, she is sympathetic to Paul’s plight and Izzy is convinced that everyone is a little too quick to assume he did something wrong.

Randi , Rhoda and Natalie remain on the periphery of the unfolding drama. Natalie’s husband is frequently gone due to military deployments and Clara helps out by letting her precocious twelve year old daughter Hallie stay with her most afternoons after school. Hallie is naturally curious and she is very interested in the current events occurring in their neighborhood. Randi and Rhoda are a new age-y couple who are parents to an infant and they own their own business so while they are well-liked they are not as involved with their neighbors.

Paul is not well known by the rest of the neighbors and the information that comes to light during the investigation into Kristin’s disappearance does not exactly endear him to most of his neighbors. Clara is especially cautious when dealing with him and once she realizes Izzy is sympathetic to his plight, she is unable to ignore her instincts that something is not quite right about him. But will Izzy take her friend’s warnings to heart?

Not That I Could Tell is an engrossing domestic mystery. The characters are well drawn and very relatable. The storyline is engaging with just enough drama and intrigue to keep the pages turning at a brisk pace. Jessica Strawser keeps readers on the edge of their as Kristin’s fate remains shrouded in mystery until the novel’s surprising conclusion.

1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Jessica Strawser, Mystery, Not That I Could Tell, Rated B, Review, St Martin's Press, Suspense

Review: Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

Title: Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.

So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Jessica Strawser’s Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.


In Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser, unresolved grief and guilt are the basis for an impetuous kidnapping that tests the bonds of friendship and love.

Violet and Finn Welsh, along with their three year old son Bear, are on vacation in FL when Violet returns to their hotel room and finds both her husband and son have disappeared.  She has no idea what prompted Finn’s decision to kidnap their son and as the days pass with no word about them, she discovers Finn and their close friend Caitlin Bryce-Daniels have been keeping secrets from her.  Finn uses some of those secrets from his and Caitlin’s shared past to gain her co-operation when he needs a place to hide while he figures out what to do next.  Caitlin is torn between her loyalty and her fear about what will happen to her family if she does not do what Finn asks.  Will Violet be reunited with her son? Can she forgive Finn for taking their son?

Years earlier, Violet and Finn met while they were both on vacation and despite their instant connection, they are separated before they can exchange even the most basic information.  They each return to their normal lives, but they both wonder “what might have been”.  Years later, they eventually reunite but they do not talk much about what happened in their lives between their first meeting and their reunion.  By all appearances, their marriage is happy and both Violet and Finn are devoted to their son Bear. Violet is beyond stunned when Finn kidnaps Bear and during the subsequent investigation, she learns some very shocking information about her husband. In light of these revelations, Violet looks back on their relationship and comes to some very shocking conclusions about herself, her husband and their marriage.

Almost Missed You is a very suspenseful and engrossing novel. The chapters alternate between Violet, Finn and Caitlin’s perspectives and often end on cliffhanger. One of the most gripping questions that keeps the pages turning at a blistering pace is, of course, why did Finn kidnap Bear? Equally compelling is what happened in the years between Finn and Violet’s first meeting and their reunion years later. Forgiveness, secrets, deliberate omissions and betrayal are just a few of the fascinating topics that Jessica Strawser explores in this well-written and intriguing story. The novel ends on a curious note that is vaguely unsatisfying but overall, readers will be quite pleased with this debut.

1 Comment

Filed under Almost Missed You, Contemporary, Jessica Strawser, Mystery, Rated B, Review, St Martin's Press