Author: Emily Murdoch
Date: May 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
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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.
Simply, this was a beautifully sad but uplifting tale. When I began reading, my heart ached with that familiar feeling when I know I’m reading something special. If You Find Me had me loving, laughing, crying and hoping nothing but the best for the girls. Big hugs to them both.
The book starts at what Carey considers ‘The End’. Home for Carey and her sister Jenessa is with their drug-addicted mother in a beat down camper van hidden away in a Tennessee national forest. One day, after her mother has been gone for over a month, her father and a social worker come to see the girls to introduce them back into ‘normal’ life. Carey has terrible memories of her mother taking them away from her father, and Jenessa has been mute for a year, ever since a faithful incident that haunts Carey’s conscience.
Seeing Carey and Nessa’s struggles with readapting back into society was beautiful. I was so touched every time they found joy in such mundane things, like taking a shower, or having food that wasn’t beans. I began to appreciate everything more, and realised how lucky we are to have all the comforts we take for granted like food, shelter and clean clothes. It was incredibly moving when Carey started to miss things from her life in the woods, like the wood smoke from their campfire and the sound of the trees, and this book is littered with so many other little glimpses of humanity.
I attribute this to Murdoch’s evocative writing. Carey is a wonderful narrator—her complexity of feelings and point of view is fascinating. Murdoch uses Carey’s unconventional upbringing to bring a beautiful lyricism to the writing and the quirks like Carey’s tendency not to pronounce ‘g’s or call everyone ‘Sir’ added a touch of realism. Apart from her unique voice, I just really admired Carey. She’s one of the bravest characters I’ve read in YA fiction, not because she’s jumping on trains or great with a bow and arrow, but for her sheer tenacity and ability to act and accept like she does, despite her horrible luck in life. She’s truly exceptional. I was so pleased for her when she made friends with Pixie and Ryan, who I thought was incredibly sweet.
I walked the line between happiness and heartbreak throughout the whole book. I wanted so much good to happen for the girls that I was on my toes the entire time, praying that nothing will go horribly wrong. I loved all the goodness that the girls experienced and how they were treated by their new family, but queasy with dread whenever I read about their life in the woods. My only qualm is that I didn’t feel the flashbacks were integrated smoothly into the story, and broke the flow.
Safe to say I cried at lot at the end. It was an incredibly moving book and one that will stay with me for a long time. A real must read!