If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Published: 26 March 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 256 (hardback)
Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Source: Own Library
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 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.
If You Find Me had been on my wishlist for months when I heard Judith at PaperRiot talking about it. She was so enthusiastic that I just had to buy a copy immediately and pushed it right to the top of my reading pile. Book Pushers rule!
For the first couple of pages, I was a little unsure whether I would actually enjoy reading this book - the main character, Carey, speaks in what could almost be called dialect, although it's more likely caused by a lack of exposure to people other than her mother and younger sister. By page ten however, I had completely forgotten about it and had the feeling this book was going to be amazing.
Carey has practically brought up her sister, Janessa, single-handed, not just emotionally but also physically - their mother is absent far more than she is present, and Carey has to make sure both she and Janessa have enough to eat, drink and keep warm in their un-powered trailer. The sisterly bond is therefore incredibly strong, and it remains that way throughout the whole book - I love books that focus on sibling relationships so strongly rather than romance.
Watching Carey and her sister experience parts of life that they had never been exposed to before, from simple things like hamburgers and television, was shocking and yet quite moving, as their reactions felt so very realistic.
The characters are one of the strongest parts of the book in my opinion - watching Carey adapt to a life that is very alien to what she knows, and coming to terms with her childhood and relationships with her family is so incredibly touching, and she handled it with so much class and determination that I was absolutely in awe of her adaptability and how she came to terms with everything.
I'm quite sad I can't tell you all the amazing things about this book because it would spoil it for anyone who has not yet read it, but it's one of those books that I would recommend to almost everybody - although it's confronting and shocking in places it has so many other positives that work so well to make this a well-rounded story with characters that were so very strong and realistic.
If You Find Me is everything I wanted it to be and much more - it was gripping, sad, hopeful and so very well written - Emily Murdoch has written one of my favourite books of 2013 and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.