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 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.
“Emily Murdoch has written a painful, hopeful…. book that charts the best and worst of humanity, especially family, with characters who worm their way into your heart… She validates the courage and ingenuity of young people the world over for whom survival is instinctive; protection of siblings is nonnegotiable; and love both a right and a gift bestowed upon those fortunate enough to find it.” – Booklist (Starred Review)
Audiobook, OverDrive Audiobook
Published 2013 by Blackstone Audio
Four and half stars: A beautifully written, heartbreaking book that will tug at your heartstrings.
Carey is worried. It has been two months since their mother left them, and their food supply is starting to dwindle. Carey and Jenessa are used to their mom disappearing, but not for this long. Carey’s anxiety rises when she hears the sound of footsteps in the woods near their secluded camper. A social worker and a man are outside insisting they are there to help. The man is Carey’s father, the one who beat and abused them according to Mama. Carey has no choice but to go with her father if she wants to protect her sister. As Carey and Jenessa renter normal life, Carey begins to come to terms with the past. She can’t deny that she is happy to see her sister safe and content. Carey will so whatever it takes to protect her sister’s happiness, even if that means sacrificing her own. Will Carey survive the darkness?
What I Liked:
- This book deserves all the accolades. I can’t believe I let this one linger in my pile this long. In all honesty, I put it off because I feared it would be too dark and sad. Yes, this book is troubling and it is filled with atrocities committed upon Carey and Jenessa by their drug addled, abusive mother. Yet, despite all of the neglect and abuse, their is hope, happiness and tremendous courage. This is a beautifully written book packed full of heart and emotion. If you have yet to read it, I urge you to do so.
- Carey is an unforgettable character who is fierce, brave, protective and wise beyond her years. I thought the author did an excellent job with her characterization. I especially liked the use of improper grammar in Carey’s dialect. Carey may be smart, but her backwoods upbringing tended to show in her speech when she was upset or feeling vulnerable. Her poor grammar is in no means reflective of her intelligence. Carey is sharp and sophisticated. Even though she has been wronged time and time again, she never gives up, she never quits fighting and she shows stout courage time and time again. She is broken and damaged, but she rarely lets that side of her show. I had so much respect for Carey, especially when it came to the way she cared for her sister. She sacrificed everything for Janessa. Carey is outstanding. I wanted to cheer for her, and then curl up in a ball and sob on her behalf.
- I was terrified to read this because I expected this to be a heart wrenching tale of abuse. I need not have feared, because this is also a story about new beginnings, healing, family and love. The author managed to touch upon so many emotions without tearing my heart out. This is a beautifully written book with so much heart.
- I loved watching Carey slowly let go of the misconceptions her mother forced on her. Carey quickly finds love and happiness and friendship. It takes a long time for her to open herself up and be able to trust others, but she gets there. Watching her metamorphosis was a powerful and emotional journey.
- The ending is bittersweet. It is gut wrenching but also hopeful. I was so happy when Carey faced her demons and truly conquered her past. I finished the book with hope.
- I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Tai Sammons. Ms. Sammons did an exceptional job with the dialect. I thought her voices for Carey and her mother were spot on. Get the audiobook version if you can.
And The Not So Much:
- There were only a couple of things that prevented this from being a five star read. First, the ending was too abrupt and open. It ends at pivotal moment for Carey. I wanted desperately to see the outcome. What happened after her devastating secret was revealed? How did she repair the relationship with her father? I wanted so much more on both of these angles.
- The other big problem for me was the lack of information on Carey’s mother I wanted a better understanding of Carey’s mother. What led to her downward spiral? Was she always abusive?
- I was also disappointed that we didn’t get more from Carey’s father. I wanted more of his view point. I felt cheated that I wasn’t able to get more on how he felt. I wished to know more about how her father coped with Carey’s disappearance and how he felt when she was recovered. I was bothered that he never really sat down and talked with Carey until the final scene.
- Finally, I was bothered by the way Carey’s stepsister bullied her. I thought her behavior was abhorrent, then there is this breakthrough moment that felt a bit to easy. I wish that there was more from Delaney’s perspective so I could understand her.
- A word of caution, this book is best suited for older, mature readers. It deals with gross child neglect and abuse as well as instances of sexual abuse, rape and drug use.
If You Find Me is a powerful, moving, heartbreaking tale that will tug at your heartstrings. This is a story about how a girl survives neglect, hardship, abuse and hunger. Don’t be afraid of this book, it sounds dark and full of sorrow, but it truly isn’t. This is a book about a fierce girl who, despite her circumstances, fights for her future, and she manages to find a family, friendship and love along the way. This book is worthy of all the praise, and it is one that I should have read long ago. Don’t miss this one!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.