Title: If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch
St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: 5 / 5
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.(goodreads.com)
This book is utterly heartbreaking. And honest. And uplifting.
I cannot say enough about how much I loved this book. I really, really can’t. There aren’t enough words in any language ever to fully encompass how much I not only enjoyed this book, but how much I was touched by it. It is an amazing journey of one girl learning to find herself. Carey must learn to give up the ghost, so to speak, on some things, and learn how to trust people.
Emily Murdoch’s writing is beautiful. The book starts a little slow, and if you’re not used to the somewhat odd way of back-woods, southern speak, it can be a little awkward. But push through that for a few pages, and you get beautifully written prose that sometimes slips into that back-woods way of speaking, but it doesn’t detract from the beauty of the story–instead, it enhances it. There’s something that’s a little heartbreaking about Carey reverting back to the life she knew in the camper, mostly because that life was just plain not good, but also because Carey is constantly trying to protect her younger sibling, Nessa, from the outside world.
The characters themselves really come to life, too. Carey is believable as a young teen who has spent 10 years of her life in the deep woods of Tennessee, and it’s so sad to see her struggling with things that we take advantage of, such as technology. It’s also really sad each time Carey describes food. Murdoch really brings out the longing of someone who hasn’t eaten a cheeseburger in a very long time.
Delaney is also a character I want to talk about, because her story is also a little sad. She’s been pretty much ignored most of her life because Carey’s dad and her (Delaney) mom are so preoccupied with finding Carey. She feels overshadowed, and it unfortunately comes out in several attacks on Carey, although Delaney seems to have enough sympathy for Nessa that she doesn’t say many cruel things about her, and when she does she seems regret it.
It’s a heartbreaking ordeal, what Carey and Nessa went through, and it’s also heartbreaking to watch them come into society and have to learn a lot of new things, including how to deal with society. It was a nice touch to have Melissa, Carey’s step-mom and Delaney’s mom, in such a mothering role–quite the opposite of Carey and Nessa’s mother, who first kidnapped Carey then abandoned them both in the woods years later.
Overall, this book is a great read. If you’re looking for a tear-jerker, or a touching story, pick this one up. Keep tissue nearby.