Title: If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch
Release date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Reading level: YA
Challenges: Debut Author, YA Contemporary
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.
If You Find Me was not at all what I expected and I mean that in the best way. I admit, after reading all the raving reviews, I was a little skeptical. I wasn’t sure what could be so special about this book but after reading it, I can’t help but agree with all the positive reviews out there.
Now, if my review starts off that great, you might be wondering why I only gave this book 4 shoes and not 5. It’s a small reason but it did keep me from getting into the book right from the start; the dialect. Carey’s a smart girl but she speaks like she’s stupid. She’s grown up out in the country with no one to learn from other than drug addicted mother. It’s clear that she’s never had formal education just from the way she speaks. It bothered me and I couldn’t get into the story for a little while because of that. It’s a small thing though.
I’ll just go ahead and say that everything else about If You Find Me was fabulous. The writing, the story, the characters, every last detail. While it took me a little while to get into the story, once I was invested in Carey and Jenessa’s outcome, I couldn’t put it down. There was enough mystery and enough romance that I just couldn’t stop turning the pages until the very end.
First off, the characters are what make this book so fabulous. Carey, Jenessa, Melissa, Delaney, their dad, Ryan, they all had qualities that made them fabulous, even if I didn’t like them at the start. Carey is so fierce and protective of Jenessa. She’s also super smart, kind, caring, and polite. Jenessa is the cutest little thing ever. She may not talk but that doesn’t take away from her character. Carey’s dad and Melissa were fabulous parents, even with two kids they barely know, one of them not even biologically related to them. Delaney had some issues but she seemed to be a good person. And as for Ryan, he’s the perfect love interest for Carey. While it may seem like this isn’t a book with romance potential, it worked. It wasn’t instalove and it didn’t take away from the rest of the story.
I won’t give anything away about the story but I will say this; it’s a lot darker than I expected. Carey and Jenessa had a hard life growing up and while things are looking up for them, they can’t just forget the past. Things happened to both of them that should never have happened to anyone, especially children, and they have to figure out how to move on. There is quite a bit of mystery surrounding what exactly happened in the woods that made Jenessa stop talking and that was one of the big things that kept me on the edge of my seat. I had my guesses but I wasn’t quite right. Sure, you can probably predict part of the mystery but I think a lot of it will leave you guessing.
Overall, If You Find Me deserves every bit of praise it’s been given. Emily Murdoch’s debut novel left me satisfied but eager for her next book.
What others have to say about If You Find Me:
Chapter by Chapter’s review: “This is one story that readers will never forget.”
The Book Stop’s review: “If I were to choose one word to describe If You Find Me, it would be ‘real’.”
Books With Cass’ review: “Emily Murdoch is talented, and definitely going to be on my auto-buy list.”