Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

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I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: If You Find Me by Emily MurdochIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 26th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy on Amazon

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.

A deep and emotional journey into the lives of two very special girls, If You Find Me is a wonderfully inspiring story that brings us past the unimaginable horror it inhibits and makes it about hope instead, about second chances.

We meet Carey and Jenessa who are living–or surviving–in their mama’s old camper in the woods. This immediately captured both my heart and rapt interest, seeing two very young girls having to fend for themselves in such cruel ways. I could see from the start how much Carey had matured way beyond her years, caring for her sister more than any mother for her child. This brought me so very close to her. She quickly wedged herself right into my sympathizing heart. Easily, I could feel the deep bond these two girls shared. A sisterly bond that is so powerfully vivid I could feel the love through these pages, almost palpable. Love — a sparse guest in their grim home. But, it is their home, for better or worse, and it’s all they know of this harsh world.

When Carey and Jenessa are introduced to society, I felt as elated at the prospect of their discoveries, as I felt the longing for their woods, their home. Baffling, yes, but no matter how terrible, it was the only life they knew; being just the two of them for such a long time. It’s an unfathomable situation that Murdoch brings into play in this novel. We learn bit by bit just how terrible the girls had it in the woods, some of it is truly horrifying, leading up to the event that caused her sister to stop talking altogether. The book as a whole, though, is not about the horror, but instead it’s filled with an incredible amount of inspiration and joy. Joy for their new-found happiness. Joy for their potential. Joy for finally getting what they both deserve; a home, a family, love, not to mention food and clean clothes. What’s most inspiring isn’t the story itself, but the characters inhabiting it. Carey is old enough to realize the true horror of their time in the woods, yet she remains strong and brave for her sister. This doesn’t mean she’s not damaged and dealing with the psychological consequences of such a childhood, but how she goes about it is admirable. She faces it head on, faking it until she makes it! Anything for Jenessa. While there exists an aura of mystery, this is not a novel filled with action or suspense;  it’s a gorgeously written story about these two girls who are learning to move on from a cruel, remorseless past into a life that is deliciously normal. Crushes, school, friends, parties; a world stolen from them, slowly being patched up and returned.

Yes there are crushes, there are parties, friends, school, burgers and fries, heck, even toilets! Little things in life we often take for granted. And in this book, it all has heart. From the obvious emotional distresses, to the light moments and little things, to each perfectly flawed character–even the step-sister who’s acting like spoiled bitch–every single part of this book is meticulously crafted with purpose, and brought to life with the most flawless of touches. Pixie, the quirky friend, for example, is an absolute light at the end of the tunnel for Carey. She radiates with such kindness; her parts in the book are aglow! Then we have a particularly sweet boy with whom Carey becomes fond of, soon discovering things about him that make him a much bigger part of the story. Still, the romance is kept light, almost non existent, but however small, it’s not without substance and purpose.

Tragic and heartbreaking, If You Find Me is a magnificently told story about a young girl and her sister against the world, finding life and love where they never knew they had any. This is one I could see winning awards, even becoming a classic, for its beautiful prose and stunning storytelling. I will be recommending this gem for years to come!


5 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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31 Responses to “Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch”

  1. Gellie

    WOW. I NEED THIS BOOK. LIKE YESTERDAY.This sounds fantastic, Giselle. I love Pixie already. Her name and your description of her already endeared her to me. And the subtle romance has me excited. For some reason, those kind always make me swoon so… *prepares to swoon*

    Fabulous review, Giselle.

  2. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Fabulous review chick! I am so happy that you loved this one just as much as I did. I loved the writing and the story was sooooo good. I really came to care for Carey, just as you did. I think this is definitely a story that sticks with the reader for a long time to come.

  3. Amy

    Whoa!! 5 hot espressos!!! I am now really excited to read this book. I am going to be reading it very soon!! Awesome review chick!!!

  4. Kris C

    This sounds like a wonderful book. I love dark contemporaries, and it sounds like this one is packed with emotion. Thanks for the review!

  5. Alexa Y.

    You’ve just made me so much more excited to read this! I was intrigued already just hearing about it (and reading an interview from Emily), but your review just sealed the deal. I love stories about sisters, and I can only imagine that this one will touch my heart.

  6. Aman

    Great review, Giselle! I’ve had this in my tbr for a long time and I’m really excited to read it. I like that the story has a strong sisterly bond, that’s not something I usually read about.

  7. Molli

    Aww, Giselle! Lovely, lovely review. You did justice to this beautiful book. I loved it so, and I’m STILL thinking about it, especially with the tour coming up for it. I really can’t wait to see what everyone thinks. It just TOUCHES your heart, seeing poor Carey and Janessa, and what they’re used to, and how hard it was for them to acclimate into a normal life, when that should have been easy. *sighs* But your review, you just said it all when you talked about how much heart IYFM has. It really, really does.

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  8. Mel@Thedailyprophecy

    I’m going to change my ‘maybe-reading’ shelve to ‘must-read-it-soon’ because it sounds amazing and heartbreaking. Thanks for the gorgeous review and I hope to read it soon!

  9. Little Miss Becky

    Ah, I am kicking myself for not accepting this when it was offered! Now I’ll have to track it down at the bookstore or library—it sounds brilliant and moving and heartbreaking! Great review, Giselle!

  10. Shooting Stars Mag

    I love this cover. It has such a striking cover, I think. And wow, five stars! That is saying a lot, so I’m quite curious about this one. It sounds like something I would really like. I’m glad the romance isn’t that much in the story…sounds like a book that doesn’t really need it.

  11. Book Whales

    5 Hot Espressos! Thank goodness Netgalley accepted my request. I will be reading this book soon. Thanks for the amazing review, Giselle 😀


  12. Jesse Burgoyne

    This sounds really interesting. I read a book a while back called I’ll Be There. It had a similar premise. Two homeless boys try to escape their destitute lives and horrible father and make a life for themselves. It was really moving, although this one sounds a little heavier than that one.

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

  13. Renae M.

    I’ve heard so many great things about this book, and it’s fantastic to hear yet another positive review. I LOVE books that focus on sibling relationships (unhealthy or otherwise), and I think that Carey’s story, in and of itself is so fascinating. It’s interesting to think about what we take for granted, and then to see how someone would experience those things for the first time.

  14. Kara_Malinczak

    Great review, G! I was hooked on this book by page 2! So I totally know what you mean! This got a 5 from me as well. And it’s definitely one of my favorite books this year so far. I need to read more edgy YA. And 2013 is off to a great start!

  15. Lyn Kaye

    I’m so thrilled to see the reviews roll in for this book. It was a very touching book, and I hope that we spread awareness of this great find.x

  16. Cindy

    Fantastic review! I’ve never heard of this one before, but it sounds like such an amazing book. I look forward to reading it, soon hopefully.

  17. Aylee

    Wow!! I have to say, this one has completely passed under my radar until now. After reading this review though, you really do make it sound like it’s WELL worth the read. I should not let this one pass me by!

  18. Lauren

    Oh wow, this sounds amazing! I love strong sisterly relationships and I’ve heard such amazing things about Murdoch’s writing. I am definitely picking this one up, and am even more excited to start it now. Beautiful review!

  19. Vi Nguyen

    I really enjoyed this book and how Emily wrote it. Carey is such an amazing character and so loving and caring of her sister. You def captured all the amazing points of this book. I agree w/you and love that it was about the joy & inspiration as opposed to the horror of what happened to the girls. Great review!

    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island