Monday, July 1, 2013

[Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch]

"If You Find Me"
Author: Emily Murdoch
Pages: 256
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Drama
Date Published: March 26th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Format Read: Finished copy from the library


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.

My Thoughts:

Holy Mother of Beans!  This book didn't just tear my heart apart, it had the help of a giant.  A giant who saw my heart laying on the floor and trampled on it with both feet.  Putting all 1,000 plus pounds on it and breaking it into a thousand pieces.  Then the giant picked all the pieces up and handed it back to me with a look that said something akin to "Yeah, good luck putting that back together..."  And that my friends, is what this book did to me. 

Murdoch takes your emotions through a highly intensive obstacle course in a mere 250 pages.  It's the raw, gritty reality that she pushes in our faces that makes this book come to life.  Her characters are real and their interactions are honest.  It's not only the heartbreaking tale that she tells in If You Find Me that makes this a book that will stay with you for a long time, it's the way that she tells it.  Her world building is amazing, mixing both the things of innocent childhood (like Pooh and The Hundred Acre Woods) with the things that you wish no child would ever have to face.

As Carey and Jenessa's story comes to life you see what it is like to live with next to nothing, wrapped up in a world of drugs and other unspeakable things, and then to see what happens when you are taken out of those situations.  This book was primarily about healing.  About finding out what happens after the horrendous things of the past are just that, the past.  

I think that aside from all of the things that I've already mentioned, it's Murdoch's character building that really pushes this story along.  You feel like you know all of these people, every single one.  Carey is an amazing narrator.  She's strong, she tough and she's been through way too much in her short time on this planet.  When her father finds her and little Nessa in the woods after her mom leaves a note, things go from a survival story to one of acclimation.  I found it both fascinating and heartbreaking to watch these girls go from having near nothing to a normal family life.

The relationship between Carey and Jenessa is so tangible that you can feel it.  Those girls mean everything to each other, from survival to friends.  It was interesting to see the difference between their relationship and the one that they attempt to share with their stepsister Delaney.  I didn't want to be a fan of Delaney, but in the end I couldn't really fault her for what she was feeling.  

Murdoch also used her secondary characters in a way that brought Carey out of her shell.  It was a slow process, but it made it feel more real.  Her father felt like a real dad, but it was the role of Melissa (her step mother) that I really enjoyed.  In a way the moments that Carey and Melissa shared in the book were some of my favorites.  Those conversations were brilliant and I loved how she and Carey's father welcomed the girls into their home with open arms.

Pixie was the perfect little fire cracker of a best friend.  I didn't know how Carey was going to end up with real friends, but once again I was pleasantly surprised when I was introduced to the energetic 12 year old!  A super smart young girl would be the perfect friend for Carey and it worked.  And then we have our romantic lead Ryan, who was amazing!  I can't tell you too much about him without giving things away, but just know that you will love him as much as I did!  In fact I can't say much more about this book without throwing spoilers in your face...

I have nothing but glowing things to say about this book.  It simply broke my heart, but also blew me away all at once!  It's one of those books that I know I'll be thinking about for a long time!

             5 Unicorns = Get your hands on this one now! 


Tammy Sparks said...

Christianna, I just love your descriptions, especially the first paragraph about getting your heart stomped on! I'm dying to read this, I've heard so many great things about it. Thanks for an entertaining review!

Jenni @ Alluring Reads said...

Yes Yes Yes! I am so happy to see that you loved this one so much, just as I did. I completely agree that the gem of the novel is the characterizations. I felt like I needed to protect Carey and Janessa. Great review!

Giselle said...

Oh yeah the character development in this one is fantastic and definitely the reason I loved this one. I could feel the character's emotions so thoroughly. I also loved the bond with her sister! So happy you loved this one just as much as I did! :)

Nicole said...

AHHHH ISN"T THIS BOOK JUST AMAZING!!! This book WILL stay with me for a long time. It is unlike anything I have ever read and I love it with all my being! Great review! SO happy you loved it too!

Renae M. said...

This is one of those amazing and unique books. The characters and how they interacted were so authentic and touching—my favorite part was the scene with her dad at the end. So happy you liked it! :)