Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Series: Standalone
Published: March 26th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
256 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: Won from Tara at Hobbitsies
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Book Depository || Chapters/Indigo}

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.

If You Find Me is one of those rare books that quietly creeps into your heart and mind and never leaves. From the very first page, this book grabs your attention, piques your curiosity, and tugs at your heart.

Because of circumstances beyond her control, Carey had to grow up extremely fast. She was a caretaker to her sister Jenessa, and was more of a mother to her than her own mother ever was. All the horror and heartache she had to live through made her strong, smart, and brave. I found myself connecting with her instantly; she fascinated me, but I also wanted to fold her and Jenessa in my arms and hold them tight while shielding them from the horror of their lives.

This book was not easy to read. There were parts that made me feel sick, made me cry, made me wonder how there can be such evil and cruelty in this world. But there were also parts that made my heart soar because they were so full of hope. Carey’s strength and her ability to overcome adversity amazed and inspired me. There were moments that were sweet and funny, and moments where Carey seemed so innocent and vulnerable in the face of so many horrific things I just wanted to weep.

If You Find Me was full of wonderful, memorable characters. I adored sweet little Jenessa, who was innocent in so many ways despite the circumstances of the first few years of her life. Charlie and Melissa were incredible, and while I wanted to claw out Delaney’s eyes at times, there was a part of me that understood her and knew that she was needed because it wouldn't have been realistic if Carey’s life was suddenly all sunshine and roses.

About halfway through the book when there didn’t seem to be any sign of romance, I found myself hoping there wouldn’t be a romantic element (which is saying a lot since I’m a romance junkie). I hated the idea of Carey possibly being healed by someone else when she was so strong on her own, and was working so hard to heal herself. But then Ryan appeared, and he was…perfect. He helped Carey and was there for her without being the reason she healed, and I loved that. He was tender and sweet and understanding, and everything Carey deserved after so many years of being treated horribly.

Despite being heartbreaking beyond words, If You Find Me is also full of hope, triumph, and courage. It’s beautiful and poetic and inspiring. It was one of the most compelling books I’ve read in awhile, and I found myself unable to put it down, reading it late into the night because I needed to make sure Carey and Jenessa would be okay. I admire and respect Emily Murdoch so much for writing this book - the world needs a book like this, and she pulled it off with style, grace, bravery, and so much heart. 

“That girl in the woods is amazing. Don’t you ever stop being that girl in the woods, you hear me? Braids and new clothes can’t take away the best parts of you. You hold on tight to your heritage. That girl in the woods raised a baby, took care of her sister, kept her fed, warm, safe. That girl in the woods is special. Especially out here.”

Have you read If You Find Me? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to?

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