Saturday, February 15, 2014

*Review ~by Kellie* If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Release Date: March 26, 2013
Published By:  Macmillian
Length:  256 pages
Review Copy: Paperback, Won from Goodreads Firstreads

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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.

  If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch is a wonderfully written novel about two sisters, Carey and Jenessa. At the tender age of five, Carey was kidnapped by her mother and taken to the woods. It is in these woods in which Carey resides for the next ten years of her life. Ten years of abuse, neglect and at times hopelessness. Perhaps the only thing/person, which gets Carey through the struggles, is her baby sister Jenessa. With her mother away most of the time, it is Carey’s job to care for her baby sister. She soon becomes a mother figure to her dear sister. It is Carey who teaches her to read, to clean and it is Carey who tells Jenessa “I Love You” and who makes sure that her sister is safely tucked in at night. These are all things that a mother and father should give to their children, affection, care and love. But these things are not for Carey and Jenessa. They have a drug addicted and mentally ill mother, and Carey was taken from her father at such a young age, she barely remembers him, and Jenessa—no one quite knows who her father is. The picture is painted from the start. Both girls have a troubling existence, the only thing that they have is each other and their camper in the woods. One day however, all of this changes for the two girls when a mysterious man (Carey’s father) and woman (CPS worker) find them in the woods and carry them out of the wilderness and into civilization. 

  What is fascinating about If You Find Me, is the way in which each word, has a purpose. As a reader I was with Carey from start to finish. The connection, the heartache for her character was apparent from the start. Murdoch brilliantly whisked Carey and her sister out of the woods and into civilization. The way in which she showcased their simple curiosity towards everyday things, which those in the civilized world take for granted, was remarkably accomplished. The way that they affectionately called a Hamburger a“Handburger” or the way they marveled at running water, helped to explore just how different the “world” was through their eyes. 

  If You Find Me deals with extremely sensitive subject matter, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, at times difficult to read through, but necessary—necessary because unfortunately, that is a harsh reality for many children in the world, many children who are never saved by a caring father or the CPS. Carey and Jenessa represented the voices of those voiceless children. I appreciated the careful pace of the book, the way that Carey had to learn to trust others, learn to let down her guard, and learn to be loved. Poignantly, Carey was also able to let go and entrust the care of her precious sister with her father, his wife and stepdaughter—a difficult decision, but necessary for the healing and growth of both girls. If You Find Me is that special read which challenges the readers view of the world, forces the reader to view the world through the eyes of another. It is through those eyes that the reader is introduced to a world outside of comfort zones, a world laced with egregious acts, but also, one of hope. Murdoch’s If You Find Me was glaringly real, yet needed, so challenge your worldview, step away from your comfort zone and read If You Find Me.

“Joelle is my Mama, only she’s not here to answer back. In fact, we haven’t seen her in over a month, maybe two at this point. It’s been a worry, the last few days. While we have enough beans to last a week or so, this is the first time Mama has been gone so long without a word.”

“He hasn’t offered his name, and he isn’t familiar to me. But in that instant, hittin’ like a lightnin’ bolt, I know who he it."

Review by Kellie~

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