I’m Not Missing
by Carrie Fountain
Published in July 2018 by Flatiron Books
Reviewed by Tony Burnett
In her richly-sculpted debut novel, I’m Not Missing, Carrie Fountain deftly details the tumultuous lives of Miranda Black and her best friend Syd. These two competing personalities are drawn together by the similarities of their daily existence – Miranda and Syd were both abandoned by their mothers, raised by their fathers, and confused by it all. Though the genre of I’m Not Missing is considered by its author to be young adult, as an older adult I found the novel to be moving and hopeful. With two award-winning books of poetry to her credit, Fountain uses her finely honed literary talent to take this complex and emotional tale to a wide audience.
Miranda Black is a high school senior, struggling, albeit successfully, to achieve admission into an Ivy League university while questioning whether or not it’s the right path to take. Her mother left in search of religious fulfillment before Miranda was in middle school. Her father, a NASA engineer, struggles with the complexities of his daughter’s puberty and the emotional baggage left by a mother who is allowed no further contact with the family by the leader of the religious cult she joined. Meanwhile, Miranda’s best friend Syd has a mother who abandoned her family with no explanation and no forwarding address. Syd’s father then creates an unbearable living situation by bringing home a girlfriend who detests Syd and makes her life miserable.
Though the narrative has a limited number of characters, multiple complex plot lines are deftly interwoven by Fountain’s excellent storytelling. The story is part domestic suspense, part romance, part family saga, and even a little horror perfectly packaged as a young adult novel. Miranda handles her myriad of trials valiantly and maturely for her age — she questions herself and her motives for wanting to leave her home town of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and struggles with her attraction to the young man she believes to be the nexus of her disappointment and humility.
Fountain writes with passion and compassion, humor and heartache, and a conviction that immerses the reader in the narrative. You will experience the story as if you were Miranda and Syd’s classmate. I lost myself so deeply in this book that I hated to see it end. Fountain ties up her complex plots cleanly and unexpectedly, leaving the reader no doubt that there is hope in relinquishing control of society to the youth of today.
Tony Burnett is the managing editor of Kallisto Gaia Press, a 501(c)3 literary press supporting poets and writers at all stages of their careers by paying those we publish.
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