Release Date: March 26m 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
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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.
Carey and Nessa, as you may already know, are sisters. Both have been abused in one way or another, but they find hope and love in each other. I adored their relationship. Nessa was basically raised by Carey because their mother was unfit to do it herself (and that’s putting it nicely). Nessa and Carey’s relationship was both heart-warming, and heartbreaking. It reminded me a lot of the Winchesters, because most sibling relationships tend to do so.
I found If You Find Me quite difficult to read at times, although that had nothing at all to do with the writing style or the characters, since both aspects were engrossing and I totally loved them. Instead, it was some scenes that disturbed me, and if you know me at all you’ll know that I’m hardly ever freaked out by anything. But this book… It got to me. Since If You Find Me is told from Carey’s point of view, some of the scenes and her telling of them seem quite crude, since Carey doesn’t beat around the bush. She’s very blunt with some things, and there were a couple of times where I had to sit back and take a breather because it shocked me.
Although the girls’ mother is never actually present outside of flashbacks, her presence is heavily felt throughout the novel. Aside from Carey always mentioning her, you can really see the impact that her actions have had on these girls’ lives. I’m not talking about the obvious things, like keeping them in the woods away from civilisation, but the smaller things, like some of the things Carey sometimes thinks.
I had a couple of minor issues with this book, although I wouldn’t even really call them issues. They’re more things that I would have liked to have seen built upon. The first thing is the length. This novel is very, very short, and since the pacing is quite fast, it’s a quick read. I would have liked to have seen more of Carey and Nessa as they settle into school and their new lives, although that would have probably changed the feel of the book. The second thing I would have liked to have seen more of is Carey’s father. I didn’t feel as though we got to know him well enough, and I spent a lot of the book suspecting him of being an abuser. However, that may well have been Murdoch’s intention.
I feel a bit bad for not reading this book sooner, because Judith has been telling me to read it for months now. I honestly wasn’t expecting something so eerily beautiful, yet devastating. Once again, the family theme punched me in the gut. If You Find Me is definitely a book that you have to be prepared for, due to the whole child abuse things, and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone since I know that some people don’t want to read things like that. If you love books that focus on family, and don’t mind a darker read, then I say go for it!