Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Author: Emily Murdoch
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Date of publication:  March 2013

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

 I started out listening to the audiobook for If You Find Me.  But about halfway through, I found that I didn't like the narrator's accents or voices for the characters.  So, instead, I finished by reading the book. That being said, I did enjoy the book immensely.  It is a sad and haunting story of the aftermath of parental kidnapping.  Carey's mother stole her when she was five and has been raised in the woods in a camper with not much contact with the real world.  It is a very backwards life in just trying to survive with a drug addicted, and often absent, mother and a baby sister who she has a strong urge to protect.  Her father finally, after 10 years, finds her in the woods and brings her and Jenessa home with him.  

My heart really hurt for Carey. She has suffered disgusting abuse from her mother for years. She is suddenly thrust into a new life with modern conveniences that she hasn't seen since she was five years old. She is living with a man who she thought was abusive. Her memory of most things from before the woods is sketchy at best. As the weeks pass, nothing about what her mother told her is adding up. She also carries the burden of a big secret about why Jenessa has stop speaking. The only thing that seems to give her any comfort is her violin and two friends she has made at school.

I thought the book was pretty realistic in how different people in this situation would react.  I thought the step-sister was a spoiled brat.  She was horrible to Carey at first, but later on you kind of get a sense of what her behavior is really about.  I ended up kind of feeling badly for her. 

The thing I liked most about the story was the ending.  While not everything was wrapped up in a nice neat package, I had the sense of hope for Carey and Jenessa down the road. I would probably keep this to the over 16 crowd as there are a few subjects (rape) that may be disturbing to the younger crowd. I definitely recommend this debut novel!

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