Tuesday, 22 October 2013
Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: May 2nd, 2013
What happens in the woods, stays in the woods... Carey is keeping a terrible secret. If she tells, it could destroy her future. If she doesn't, will she ever be free? For almost as long as she can remember, Carey has lived in a camper van in the heart of the woods with her drug-addicted mother and six-year-old sister, Jenessa. Her mother routinely disappears for weeks at a time, leaving the girls to cope alone. Survival is Carey's only priority - until strangers arrive and everything changes...
I had no idea what to expect from debut novel If You Find Me when I started reading it. I certainly wasn't expecting to be hooked from the start, to empathise with Carey the way I did and to completely fall in love with little Jenessa. It's a beautifully written book that grips you from page one, pulling you into a story of survival, resilience and, ultimately, living.
Carey's story isn't an easy story to read; it's shocking, heartbreaking, and has the potential to be all too true, to be one of those news stories you read in the papers in real life. At several moments during the novel I had to take a couple of seconds to step back and let it sink in, purely because some of the things Carey and Jenessa go through are nothing short of horrific. These are two young girls thrust into this situation by their own mother, and forced to grow up in the depths of the woods, affectionately named the Hundred Acre Wood by the girls. This innocence, coupled with scenes of brutality, make If You Find Me a hard book to read and imagine, but one that leaves you with a strong sense of hope and morality.
Jenessa is, without a doubt, my favourite character. She's practically mute, but she's so loveable and reliant on Carey for everything. Carey's still a child herself, forced to grow up quickly and far too soon. She's seen and done things no girl her age should ever have to see and do, and she harbours several secrets that are slowly making her unravel. How she reaches the end of her journey as a girl of the woods demands to be read, savoured and then read again.
If You Find Me is by no means a happy, go-lucky book, but it's an important, hopeful story of two girls surviving in a desolate wasteland and living to tell the tale. It's about family and the strong bond that forms between human beings, whether they're related or not, and how all is never lost. I can't wait to see what Emily Murdoch tackles next, and I just hope it's as powerful as this.