About the book
If You Find Me is a contemporary young adult novel by Emily Murdoch. It was published by Indigo on 2nd May and the book is 304 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
Plot Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
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.
What I thought
Emily Murdoch begins this novel with such a strong opening. Carey and Jenessa are two young girls living in a trailer in the middle of the woods somewhere. Their drug addict mother has abandoned them, leaving them to fend for themselves – which is something they are used to doing at this point. It was shocking to see two girls at such young ages to be living in such a way and Murdoch was very descriptive about how hard the conditions were. The story really begins though when a woman and a man come to the woods to find Carey and Jenessa. The man, being Carey’s biological father has sole custody, and has done for some time – something which Carey’s mother failed to tell her. Even though Jenessa isn’t biologically his, he takes her in as well and the girls have to get used to a whole new life, a father, a stepmother and stepsister.
As the girls have grown up in the woods, you would think that they were uneducated and very unaware of the world around them. However, Murdoch writes extremely clever characters. Carey has taught herself from books and then begun to teach Jenessa herself. When the girls move in with their father, the true beauty of their upbringing really shines through. However bad living in the woods may have been, Carey is able to see the good in it as well as the bad. The descriptions of never ending meals of beans sounded absolutely awful but then there were also descriptions of the smoky smells that no longer exist in their hair. It was a wonder that Carey was able to have such a positive attitude at times after everything she had been through.
Carey’s voice is also a distinct one as she narrates the story. Even though her mother was a drug addict with mental health problems, she did try to teach the girls how to talk properly, without dropping letters. This was something Carey forgot to do a lot and mostly when she gets very emotional about something. In her new life, Carey tries to be someone she isn’t and I loved watching the real her shine through. There were so many good things about Carey as a character and I couldn’t help but love her. She was so caring, especially towards her little sister and would do anything to protect her. Then there were the secretive aspect of her which very few people got to experience.
If You Find Me was a beautifully written debut with a very strong and important plot. The book isn’t only about the girls finding a better life but it is about coming to terms with their past, getting to grips with the bad things in life and making the best of what they had and also about new beginnings and new relationships. I absolutely adored this book!