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.
Carey and her little sister Jenessa have lived in the woods for as long as they can remember. For Jenessa, it’s been her whole life. They’ve survived off beans and other canned foods, had no running water or electricity, shared a cot in a trailer, and were constantly abused by their meth-addict mother when she was actually around. But their mom has now been missing for two months, and food supplies are running low. Carey doesn’t know how much longer she and her sister can survive without their mom.
One afternoon a man and a woman appear in the woods, claiming that Carey’s mother sent them a letter claiming that she could no longer take care of the girls. It comes out that Carey’s mother kidnapped her when she was four-years-old, and now the man (her father) has found her and is going to take both the girls back to live with him and his family. There, Carey finds new clothes, and unhappy step-sister, a new life, a new school, and old and new friends who will forever stick by her side.
For all my life, at least throughout my teenage years up till now, I have loved kidnapping cases, murder cases, missing persons..everything along those lines. There are times that my DVR will be filled with those types of shows. Trust me, it drives my mother nuts. So when I read the back of If You Find Me, I knew that it was a book specifically for me. I had not doubt that I was going to love this book.
I fell in love with If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch after the first paragraph. Normally it takes me a few chapters to fall in love with a book, but not with this one. The first paragraph was all it took. That paragraph prepared me for an amazing read to come, and I knew that I was not going to be disappointed. This time I was right.
The main character, Carey, was so strong, heartbreaking, dedicated and loyal that she actually became a real person in my eyes. I was drawn to her character immediately, and it was amazing to have the chance to watch her growth throughout the book. I also fell in love with the younger sister, Jenessa, as I think all of the characters in the book did as well. At times, it was hard to read about a six-year old girl who went through everything that she did, but she was such a little trooper. In all honesty, this book would not have been nearly as good without her.
If You Find Me is so genuine, so….raw…it just feels so real. The writing was consistently amazing throughout the whole book. It never had downer moments or boring chunks. It was just perfection all the way through. I will say that this book left me emotionally exhausted when I finished it. I don’t think that I have ever read a book where I have cried so much. I was just a giant mess from the beginning to the end.
I loved watching the relationships in this story. There was Carey and her little sister Jenessa, who she raised from birth. Then there was the timid relationship between Carey and her father. It was heart wrenching to read about them together. Carey’s mom had told her such awful things about her dad, and she was afraid of him. I loved watching that fear slowly dissolve. Some of the best relationships in this book were between Carey and her step-sister, Delaney, and those of her and her newfound friends. Carey’s being forced into situations that she never thought she would have the chance to experience, and it warmed my heart to read about them.
A bit of warning, this book strongly discusses the topics of drugs and rape. If you can’t handle those topics, then do not read this book. Personally, I thought that those topics made the book stronger. Both Carey and Jenessa had to go through so much during their young lives, and the honesty and realistic quality of the book were well received on my end.
My few complaints with the book are very simple ones. First, the book needed to be longer. It’s only 256 pages, but it needed to be a lot longer, in my opinion. There was so much that wasn’t captured in this book that I was hoping to see. Secondly, I was hoping for some scenes that never happened. I wanted to see the girls in therapy, I wanted to see more of their time in school, and I wanted the mother to come back in the picture for a brief period later in the book. These things didn’t happen, so I feel that Carey’s story is very unfinished. I believe that If You Find Me is a standalone, but I would love to see more books from Emily Murdoch in the future, even if they just cover Jenessa or Delaney’s story. Finally, I really didn’t like how much of her childhood Carey actually remembered. I barely remember anything from when I was four. And, yes, it make sense that Carey remembered a thing here or there. But it was really weird to have someone mention something and her be like “Oh, yes! I remember that!” and then remember a bunch of scenes about it.
Guys….this book was so amazing. I cried, my heart broke, and then I cried some more. I was an emotional basket case from the very beginning. I want to recommend this book to each and every one of you. This is what great writing is. All of you need to go out and read Carey’s story.
This book actually released today, so go out and get your copy. If you’re looking for something similar to If You Find Me, I would suggest Nora Roberts Quinn Brothers of Chesapeake Bay series. It’s an adult series, but it is amazing, and I have read it way too many times to count.
Publication Date: March 26th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: [rating: 5]
Teaser Quote: “Beans ain’t free, but they’re on the cheap, and here in the Obed Wild and Scenic River National Park, dubbed ‘The Hundred Acre Wood,’ I must know close to one hundred ways to fix beans. From the dried, soaked-in-water variety to beans in the can-baked beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans….
It don’t sound important. It’s just beans, after all, the cause of square farts, as my sister used to say with a giggle on the end. But when you’re livin in the woods like Jenessa and me, with no runnin’ water or electricity, with Mama gone to town for long stretches of time, leavin’ you in charge of feedin’ a younger sister – nine years younger – with a stomach rumblin’ like a California earthquake , inventin’ new and interestin’ ways to fix beans becomes very important indeed.
That’s what I’m thinkin’ as I fell the scratchy cookin’ pot full of water from the chipped porcelain jug and turn on the dancin’ blue flame of the Bunsen burner: how I can make the beans taste new tonight, along with wishin’ we had butter for the last of the bread, which we don’t, because butter don’t keep well without refrigeration.”