Review: If you Find Me by Emily Murdoch ★★★1/2

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch 
Genre: General Fiction
Series: n/a
Publication Date: March 26th 2013
ISBN: 9781250021526
Page Count: 256
Rating: ★★★1/2
Review Copy: AR,
Reviewed by: Lynsey
Synopsis:   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.
 

REVIEW

Little girl lost.


Not normally a fan of general fiction and with an unwritten rule that I don't read books with protagonists under 16, I find myself wondering—other than the captivating cover art—what made me pick up IF YOU FIND ME in the first place. I suppose I was intrigued by the question it seemed to pose, which was if you remove a child from all civilization during their formative years, and then subsequently throw them back in, what kind of personality would that create and how would they cope? The answer I got surprised me, and made me glad I ignored my usual book choosing rules that day.

Carey, our narrator, who's been living in primitive squalor in a trailer deep inside a national forest since she was six years old, could have easily (and predictably) been written as totally feral and crazed, or bitter and angry. Or both. Instead, I found her to be a brave, caring and surprisingly well-balanced girl with impeccable manners and an absolutely refreshing view of the world. Her character "voice" was deeply compelling and her narrative so stark yet somehow inspirational. Carey made the book for me, and I'm so glad the author chose the less obvious route where she was concerned. It was far more interesting than a book full of temper tantrums could have ever been.

Although I ultimately found a lot of positives in this story and Carey's character, the tone of the book is, at times, very dark. In fact, some of it truly made my heart hurt. The meth-addicted, abusive or absent mother. The hardships survived. The near starvation and lack of everything except the bare minimum essentials . The years lost. Years that should be the happiest and easiest of a person's life. And something even more harrowing that's revealed along the way. All this only served to make me more proud of the young woman Carey has become, and how well she cared for her younger sister, Jenessa, because her mother couldn't or wouldn't.

Speaking of Jenessa, she was an amazingly strong presence throughout, especially for a little lady that doesn't speak. Also worthy of note was Carey's father and his new wife. Their patience and understanding was touching and admirable. Especially since the whole thing must have been equally as painful for them.

Sadly, although it started incredibly strongly and is still, overall, a great book, I found the last section wasn't quite as compelling as the first. The end seemed to lose its purpose and felt hurried and a bit wishy-washy. I'm not sure what I wanted to happen instead - a big showdown, perhaps? A bit more closure for Carey? I don't know, but I felt like it fizzled and was slightly unsatisfying because of that.

Still, I definitely recommend it. If you're looking for a book with a main character who will really speak to you, and have something worth saying, try this one for size.

3.5 Stars ★★★1/2
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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