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Goodreads Book Description: 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 Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
My Review: I received this book from the Goodreads First Reads Program in exchange for an honest review.
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch is a haunting read that will stay with you long after it's done. The novel stars Carey, a teenaged girl who has been living in an abandoned camper in the woods for years with her younger sister, Jenessa, who she has taken care of, while her druggie mother has been in and out of town and eventually, missing, for the past two months. The two girls get discovered by social services and Carey's father, whom she hasn't seen for a decade, and what happens next is a revelation, both for her and her new adoptive family.
I don't want to give away too much about the plot, because it is so wonderful to discover all of the intricacies as you read yourself. The characters are deftly drawn, beautifully written, and poignant. Carey, the protagonist, carries the piece, which is vitally important to the success of this novel. She is very likeable and sympathetic as a character. Her younger sister, Jenessa, is the perfect combination of sweet and loveable, and mystery, since we know there is a reason why she hasn't talked for years. The supportive cast of characters is also wonderful, including Carey's father, Melissa, their new stepmother, Delly, the jealous new stepsister, and Pixie, an odd, whimsical new friend for Carey. The prose is gorgeous, and the description spot on. The plot races along at a perfect pace, and I was gripped from start to finish. As you can tell, I was greatly impressed by this novel.
If I had anything less than positive to say about this novel, it has to do with the boy in this piece-- his part seems a little too easy, too perfect. But that's about all I can say about it-- it obviously didn't change my opinion about the book.
Overall, a compelling, heartbreaking, and beautifully written first novel-- Murdoch is an extremely talented writer, and I will be watching for her future work.
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