Monday, December 2, 2013

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (Thoughts On)



Title: If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch (website)(Twitter)
Pages: 256
Source: library loan
Published: March 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin 
Rating: 5 of 5...wowsers.

Summary from Goodreads:

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.


*****
This is one of those books that has gotten buzz and I immediately put on my TBR list. I hadn't gotten around to reading it yet because all.the.books but when Kat had a review of it and told me to bump it up my list, I listened. Sooooo glad I did. 

The story was a tough one to read because of the subject but the writing...oh my. Lush and lyrical. When Carey and her sister are found at the their campsite in the woods, their worlds change forever. Getting the back story in bits and pieces made the story even more compelling.  There was a bit of a mystery since Carey spoke of the "white star night". They had to relearn and in some case plain learn things about the way the world really works. They had been at that camp site fending for themselves - with their mom popping in and out randomly - for so long that it was hard for them to adjust. The way that was written was so amazing. Just thinking through how two girls would react is amazing and that Murdoch so easily pulled it off is even more amazing.

The things those girls went through in the woods were so horrific and yet there is still such a strong sense of hope throughout the entire novel. This is a testament to Murdoch's stellar writing skills. I connected with Carey and Nessa from the beginning and rooted for them the whole way through. I hated that Carey felt at fault for whatever made Nessa stop talking. I hated that she had to adjust to high school after never having been there. I wanted to tuck them into a soft, warm bed and let them do whatever they wanted. 

The use of Carey as the narrator and her flashbacks and sidebars were helpful in putting the story together but it also made the story even more real. Had the narrator been anything other than first person, I think the story would have missed some of the emotional punch it had.

If You Find Me has really wonderful characters that were well rounded. From the social worker to the new family members - both good and "bad" ones - they felt like real people with real histories. I enjoyed seeing how they all progressed into a true family. The hardships and bumps along the way just made the good things that happened be even more special.

And the way the title played into the story at the end? Gah. 

It is hard to believe that this was a first novel but If You Find Me was Emily Murdoch's debut. She is an auto-buy author for me after this one. I want to hug this book and poor Carey and Nessa too. I almost can't put into words how wonderful this book was. The subject was terrible but the emotions were so wonderfully drawn. All.the.feels.






6 comments:

  1. I loved how hopeful this book felt, despite the horrors the two girls had to endure. The writing-style was great and made it all feel so realistic! :) I'm happy it had the same impact on you as it had on me.

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    1. So well said, Mel. It was just all.the.feels. She's an auto-buy author for me. Not borrow, buy! I'll re-read this one at some point because I now I missed a lot. So rich even if it was sad.

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  2. Glad this one worked so well for you. I was impressed by Murdoch's debut too, and will definitely be checking out whatever she does next, but I didn't get that emotional connection you so obviously did. That can be so elusive, but it's magical when it happens!

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    1. Oh all.the.feels. I was afraid that the hype was going to kill it for me but I just loved it.

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  3. This is one that I've had on my TBR for a while, but I was kind of unsure of. I don't really like reading about really horrible things happening to people...But your review has convinced me I need to give this one a chance! It sounds really fascinating, and the fact that this author is now on your auto-buy list means a lot! Great review!

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    1. Oh Andrea, get it. It was so good! I was afraid that the hype would make it be a disappointment but it wasn't...at all.

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