I just finished reading Amanda Davis’ first and only novel. It was published in 2003, so I am late to this wonderful work. Better late than never though and I urge everyone who loves language and a good story to read this book.
Wonder When You’ll Miss Me is a heartfelt coming of age story full of brutal honesty and beautiful, lyrical prose. Sixteen year old Faith Duckle has just returned from a stint in a mental hospital after a failed suicide attempt. Her classmates, including the group of boys who sexually assaulted her at homecoming, barely recognize then new thin Faith. With her significant weight loss Faith now must contend with the fat girl, a girl only she can see and hear, who is hellbent of revenge and running away.
Faith finally gets retribution and leaves town in a hurry on the trail of the former busboy, whom she befriended, from her job at the restaurant. Faith doesn’t find her friend Charlie at the Fartlesworth circus but she does find a job shoveling elephant dung and a new person she crafts for herself, a girl named Annabelle.
Davis weaves in eccentric characters that spring to life on the page. Her descriptive language brings the colorful world alive, lighting upon all the senses, without calling undue attention to itself, without boring the reader with pure cleverness. But it is clever, inventive and fresh.
Sadly, right after publication of this debut Amanda Davis died in an airplane crash at the tender age of 32. Michael Chabon articulates the tremendous loss in the afterword of the novel. It is heartbreaking to lose such talent, such promise and someone who through writing can connect on such an emotional level. I wish that there was more of her work to read, consume and ponder. I will have to be content with her short story collection Circling the Drain that is now moved up to next on my reading list.