01 April 2013

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

There are some things you can’t leave behind…

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.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

*I received an ARC from the author. The book will be available from St. Martin's Press on March 26, 2013.*

I'm not sure I can do this book justice. I honestly don't know. I basically cried from the first few pages and didn't stop until I closed the book. Granted, sister stories rip out my heart anyway, but this one... Holy crap, this one.

Easily one of the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful books I've EVER read, If You Find Me grabs you at page 1 and doesn't let go. We join Carey and Janessa on a journey of acceptance and self-discovery that will pull your heart in all kinds of directions. It's truly a joy to share Carey's ups and devastating to experience her lows, but the book gives Carey, and us, an opportunity to find inner-strength. She has to deal with so much so quickly--meeting the father she hasn't seen since she was younger than Janessa, trying to distinguish the lies her mother told her from the the truth her father tries to help her understand, a step-sister who fears being the laughingstock of school because of Carey's presence in her classes, and the boy she grew up with who hoped and prayed she'd come back. For a girl overwhelmed at the gestures of clean, store-bought clothes, Carey handles everything with a dignity and grace that only being Janessa's caretaker in an RV in the middle of a national park forest could provide her. Her strength is truly astounding, and her selflessness is overwhelming. She truly had to grow up ahead of her time.

Murdoch ends the book on a purposeful cliffhanger. Not one that makes you wish and pray for a second book (though I certainly would not argue if we got a sequel), but one that makes you think. Really, it ends at the perfect place--Carey has finally come to terms with basically her entire life now. She almost has this zen moment after she confesses the mystery of the "White Star Night" that she mentions here and there throughout the story. It was a strange feeling of completion for me as a reader, almost like letting out a breath that was held for too long.

If You Find Me is not for everyone. It is a hard, sometimes brutal, read. However, if you're willing to put in the emotional effort (and full box of tissues) I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this book.

Check out If You Find Me at Goodreads.

Available at:
Barnes and Noble


M.J. Fifield said...

I just finished this book the other day, and I couldn't agree with you more. I cried a lot. I love it when a book makes me feel so strongly, and Emily Murdoch did it beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Gotta read this one!

Catherine Peace said...

MJ, I thought I was going to need to buy stock in Kleenex. Seriously.


Landra said...

You always write awesome reviews. Sounds like one I need to read.

P.S. I nominated you for the Liebster Award. Enjoy :)