Friday, March 8, 2013

Review + Contest: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

SUMMARY: 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.


Gripping, painful, potent, raw and beautiful, If You Find Me is a mix of everything I love in a book with a stellar execution. Carey's character goes through such tremendous changes, and is someone I rooted so hard for. With stunning writing and a palpable emotional atmosphere, this one is a breathtaking and amazing debut from a talented writer.

I loved Carey. From the specific way she talked, to her loyalty and devotion to her sister, to her vulnerability and fear. She has had to face so much, far beyond what you can even imagine going into the book. And yet she's come out on top in way or another, scars and all. Carey is an amazing girl, smart and intuitive, yet soft when she needs to be. Her sense of right and wrong is solid, even with her shaky upbringing, and there is just something so resonating about her. I loved watching her navigate the "normal" world, to be so out of touch with things we take for granted. She has to completely learn all the social norms, as well as figure out how to settle into a new house, complete with a real bed, electricity, and running water. All the while trying to protect her sister without smothering her growth. Murdoch completely nails Carey's character, and this is certainly a girl that has suck with me long after finishing the book.

Janessa, Carey's sister, is as equally well done, a star in her own right in the book without detracting from Carey's story. Playing on not only her younger age but the naivity she still holds, Murdoch does a great job of contrasting her own adjusting against Carey's, yet somehow manages to make each character both reliant on the other and solid on their own. Then there's Charles, their father, who finally has the girls back after years of searching. He isn't perfect, yet he is so genuinely good and kind he seems, to me, about as perfect as a man in his situation can be. Willing to go through huge lengths for not only Carey and Janessa, but for Delaney, his teenage stepdaughter as well, Charles is a strong character who adds so much to this story.

The plot of this is mind blowing, so well paced even if nothing more is going on than Carey trying to figure out how to adjust to any one situation. Murdoch holds nothing back on an emotional level, infusing it into everything and keeping readers hooked. With some huge twists thrown in, as well, this is more than a coming of age, and more than a figuring out a new situation kind of book. There is so much to be said about this book, and I cannot wait for more from this obviously skilled writer. She also nails Carey's mindset and voice, a girl who doesn't speak as perfectly as we'd expect, yet reading it isn't in any way frustrating or hard to get into. With how tastefully and respectfull everything is handled, and the tender, sweet romance woven in, this is a total must read.

THE GIVEAWAY: To celebrate this book's upcoming release on March 21, I've got FIVE copies up for grabs, courtesy of St. Martin's.

To enter, just fill out THIS FORM.

Contest is US only, and ends March 17. No entries will be accepted through the comments, but you know you want to leave one.


  1. Thanks for the review, I've been looking forward to reading this one for awhile!

  2. Carey sounds like a really complicated character with a really complicated backstory. I love those when they're well done, and If You Find Me sounds like it was.