by Emily Murdoch
to be published by St Martin's Griffin
on March 26, 2013
Connect with the author: blog : Twitter : website.
Heads up on content: There is some potentially disturbing subject matter here. Nothing is gratuitous or extremely explicit and, as you will see from my review, I highly recommend this book. As always, email me if you have any questions!
Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) 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 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.
My take: If You Find Me combines the suspense of a thriller and the beautiful writing of a literary novel with the intense emotional experience of a unflinching coming of age story. If You Find Me is unique and unforgettable book, a book that will stay with you long after you've turned the final page.
There were so many things I loved about the book. First, the writing. Emily Murdoch's bio says she's a poet as well as a writer, and it shows. The book is filled with beautiful phrases and descriptions, and Carey's voice is distinct and engaging. Carey's spent years living in the woods with her mother and younger sister. With no television and no peers, Carey's speech patterns reflect her mother's -- complete with dropped G's and anachronistic expressions. While I love accents in real life, I was concerned that the whole book would be written in misspelled dialect, which is something that tends to result in me throwin' up my hands in annoyance. Not to worry -- as Carey transitions from the woods to the real world, she makes an effort to speak "properly," but her dialogue and internal monologue still retain some of her quirky phrasings and unique take on the world.
I loved the intense emotional journey that reading If You Find Me entails, a journey that was at times frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring. As the story opens, Carey and Jenessa are being ripped from the only home they've even known. Since I was reading on a kindle, I hadn't seen the book's blurb and wasn't sure if the people "rescuing" the girls were even to be trusted.
As Carey adapts to her new life, she's haunted by her old one. She can't face her future until she comes to terms with her past. For me, this part of the book was incredibly suspenseful. Carey drops a few hints as the book progresses, and my apprehension increased. I actually had to stop reading a couple times, because I had a feeling about the revelations that were to come, and I was afraid. I don't want to say too much about what happens, because Carey's emotional journey is full of surprises for the reader and I wouldn't want to spoil even one.
I also enjoyed the themes of family, nature and beauty that I noticed in If You Find Me. Family bonds are broken and remade. The Hundred Acre Wood -- where Carey lived for years with her mother and sister in a broken-down camper -- is a source of beauty and comfort to Carey, and also a source of unease and fear.
I'm always curious about writers' influences, and I noticed on Emily's Goodreads bio that she listed these authors as some of her favorites: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Lucy Maud Montgomery. Not only are these some of my favorites as well, but having read many books by these authors, I can actually see the way that If You Find Me fits into this list. The kinship that Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden feels with the natural world, the way Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables slowly and fearfully integrates herself into her new family, Laura Ingalls' sometimes awkward adjustment from prairie to town -- I see Carey as in fitting right into this trio of tough, resilient literary heroines who get knocked down hard by life but discover that the world is still filled with magic and beauty and people who care.
I have an interview scheduled with Emily Murdoch tomorrow as part of the blog tour, and I look forward to asking her about some of these aspects of her story. St. Martin's Press is also letting me give away a copy of the book as part of this tour. I hope you can stop by!
I was just reading Wendy's review of this. It does sound disturbing but beautifully told, and I'm hoping I can make time for it soon. Can't wait to see your interview with the author!ReplyDelete
Definitely read it -- not to be missed!Delete
I'm a little nervous about the literary novel quality of this as I tend to not appreciate such writing but I'm gladdened to hear that it has suspense and many revelations, which suggest a strong emphasis on plot to me. I didn't really like the cover so I hadn't made it a priority to check out this book but reviews like yours are swaying me to consider picking it up-thanks!ReplyDelete
I'm also a reader who gets impatient with beautiful writing that goes nowhere. This book does not fall into that category at all.Delete
This sounds really good. I'm totally ok with disturbing books and I love that it's a suspenseful coming of age story. I can't even imagine what it would be like to grow up so isolated like that!ReplyDelete
Then you will love this one!Delete
I need this one. Great review.ReplyDelete
Giving away a copy along with the interview tomorrow :)Delete
I'm reading this right now! Glad you enjoyed it! :)ReplyDelete
I really loved it!Delete
I'm reading this now and really like it so far. I had to stop to get to a tour book, but am getting back to it soon. Awesome review!ReplyDelete
Can't wait to see what you think!Delete
Great review! Another book I might have skipped if it weren't for your reviews. ;)ReplyDelete
Yes, I'm sure I make people's TBR lists way too long...Delete
Seriously. Stop it. :PDelete
Another great review for this book. I have so many books to read already but I think I need to make time for If You Find Me.ReplyDelete
It's really a fantastic book!Delete
This one did sound so disturbing and emotional. I have been assuming some of the revelations are some truly horrible things. Sounds like really beautiful writing and well told story even if difficult to read.ReplyDelete
It was hard to read at times, but it was not depressing. Overall it's a really hopeful and inspiring story.Delete
This sounds really interesting-- imagine, living in a trailer in the woods with no one around for years-- it would be really scary to go to town! I actually really like dialect (like your example), because I kind of talk that way...country roots never let you go, you know? Lovely review, Jen! (:ReplyDelete
Megan@The Book Babe
gosh this book sounds amazing. I love'd your review, have a copy of it myself but have not been able to get around to it :( glad you enjoyed the family themes in this one, always refreshing!ReplyDelete
I actually have this on my wishlist, I love the elements and that fact that it sounds both emotional and disturbing..eep. Wonderful review Jen!ReplyDelete
Oh wow, I didn't give this one much attention before, but today I've read at least 5 reviews on this book and everyone seems amazed! I can't wait to read it now. Great review Jen!ReplyDelete
Anatea @ Anatea's Bookshelf
I have this one on my TBR pile, and I'm so glad to hear you love it! I love when a book is able to sway my emotions and surprise me. I definitely need to read something light before I tackle this one though. I've been reading so many emotional books lately, I need a breather. But when I'm ready I will definitely pick this one up. Beautiful review!ReplyDelete
This book sounds FANTASTIC!! And the author being a poet.. I'm really looking forward to read her writing!! If You Find Me sounds right up my alley! Beautiful review!!ReplyDelete
- Farah @ MajiBookshelf
I love those authors too.This sounds like one that would make me think. You know how I feel about content, but some books need that stuff sometimes (as long as it's not too descriptive). I'll add it to my tbr and get to it when I can. Since you recommend it, I'll put it towards the top. I just looked at my books from NetGalley and what I've signed up through for book tours and put together a reading/reviewing schedule. I've decided I'm crazy because the list is long!ReplyDelete
Tressa @ Tressa's Wishful Endings
I LOVE that you drew parallels between LIW, LM Montgomery, and Frances Hodgson Burnett to this book! They are among my favorite authors as well, and I didn't even notice them on Emily's favorites list, nor did I make the connection. Amazing review, Jen.ReplyDelete
Just added this one to my TBR. I don't know how I missed seeing this book until this week. Sounds really good. Great review Jen :-)ReplyDelete
I am so curious about this book now, Jen! I wasn't so much when I read the description but your review has changed my mind. i am a sucker for pretty writing so I like that this book has that.ReplyDelete
Great review, Jen! I definitely want to read this one even more now. And I kind of like those instances when you're reading and you're scared a bit because you think you know what might be coming up and it isn't good! It's more of a love-hate thing, I guess. ;)ReplyDelete
This sounds like exactly my kind of book. I think I will for sure be checking it out soon.ReplyDelete