Dec 17, 2012

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch review

If You Find Me cover

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 the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the "normal" life of school, clothes and boys. 

Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away 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.

From Goodreads

Carey has made as much peace as is possible with her "home" in One Hundred Acre Wood. She and her little sister Jenessa (Ness) have a (run down) camper, (some) canned food, a shotgun for self-defense and hunting, and most importantly each other. That's why she feels completely distraught when a man and woman show up at their campsite to take them away. With their mother MIA for several weeks now, on one of her worst meth benders in a while no doubt, Carey doesn't understand how the people knew where to find the girls and (more importantly) how they know the truth about the girls' mother.

Whisked away into the land of plenty by Carey's biological father, the girls find themselves overwhelmed by all the differences between their idea of normal and society's idea of normal. With a world of indoor toilets, light switches, and unfamiliar words, Carey and Ness begin to unravel the truth about their existence in the woods. The hardest part is sharing that truth with those who hold the power to destroy all that Carey loves in this world. Stuck between two worlds, Carey must help Ness find her voice and in doing so, find her own.

Wow. This is without a doubt one of the most triumphant and moving YA books I have read. While outwardly it seems to be such a simple premise, the contents of this book gripped me tight and made me see the truth of the story. It's not just about family, love, and hardship. It's about truth, beauty, and above all hope.

With the story being told from Carey's point of view, we get an encompassing tale. If the story were told any other way, I don't know that it would have had as much power. Carey is the key to the story since she is the only one to experience all the central events. She is the bridge that takes us from the woods, to town, and then into the past to explore the truth of the situations she is facing.

The incredible thing about the writing in this book is the detail. Emily Murdoch did a marvelous job conveying the girls' experience of such simple things that we take for granted every day. Light switches, hot water, opening a vehicle trunk, even bedazzled jeans were so foreign to these girls that the author had to convince you that they were experiencing it for the first time, but without boring you. She did an incredible job because I continually felt like I was in their shoes and never once found myself bored.

The author also took tremendous care with the subjects she broached in this book. Being a kidnapped child of a bipolar, drug-addicted parent is beyond my comprehension, but the more disturbing things that Carey and Ness had to experience were handled with the delicacy of a rare flower. Most of the gritty events the girls' endured are told through specific verb-age and euphemisms that get the gist across to the audience. While there is one scene (towards the end) where she spares few details, it's still presented in a manner I think most young adults who've ever seen an episode of Law and Order: SVU can handle.

In short, don't pass this one up. I know it's not even coming out until late March, but it'll be well worth the wait. You'll love the characters and you'll have the pleasure of reading one of the most poignant books of 2013.

Provided by Around the World Tours

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