Saturday, March 23, 2013

ARC Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch
Publication: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (March 26, 2013)

Description: 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: What an amazing, heart-tugging story! Carey and her little sister Janessa have lived deep in a state forest with their meth and alcohol addicted mother. Carey has been living there for nine years struggling to survive and keep her little sister safe and fed. Their mother has become more and more unreliable, leaving them for long periods of time, and beating and burning them when she is there. 

When the story begins, Carey and Janessa have been on their own for two months. Then, out of the woods, comes a social worker and Carey's father. It seems their mother had sent a message saying she couldn't take care of the kids and giving vague directions about where to find them. 

Carey and Janessa have to adjust to a whole world they don't know anything about. Carey's father takes them home where he introduces them to his wife Melissa and his stepdaughter Delaney. Carey had been told over and over again by her mother that she had taken her from her father because he beat them both. She is very distrustful of him and worried for Janessa. Janessa had gone selectively mute after a traumatic incident a year before while the girls were still in the forest. 

Watching Carey cope with her new world—including her first experience with attending school—and seeing her strength and growth made this an excellent story of courage and survival. I loved watching her slowly begin to trust her new family. I loved her relationship with her little sister. She was much more like Janessa's mother than her real mother ever was.

There is even some romance in the book. Ryan Shipley helps her out on her first day of high school when Delaney abandons her to crowd. He tries to get close to Carey but she doesn't know anything about boys. Her ideas of the opposite sex were formed by the men her mother sold her to. It takes time for she and Ryan to get on the same page. Ryan knew her before the kidnapping but Carey didn't remember him at first. 

Fans of contemporary fiction on the gritty side will really enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
Home. Four letters heavier than twenty thousand elephants. It's like he's saying a word bursting with a bunch of other words not yet ready for saying. His expression shifts, reminding me of the twists of colored glass in Nessa's garage-sale kaleidoscope.
I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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