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.
(Summary from Goodreads.)
If You Find Me isn’t what I usually read (read: it doesn’t have magic or dragons), so I was surprised by how much I loved it. At first the dialect is a little jarring since books aren’t usually written that way, but by the end of the first chapter I’d gotten used to it and couldn’t put the book down.
It was alarmingly easy to get into Carey’s head – I say alarmingly because she’s a girl who was kidnapped as a child and hidden away in the woods and witness to unspeakable things, and obviously that isn’t something I can identify with. She was a character who was easy to sympathize with, and her strength and resilience were both incredible. Her motivations were also easy to understand, so when certain things came to light, I was more appalled by the situation than by Carey herself.
I even sympathized with Delaney, Carey’s step-sister, who isn’t likeable but is still someone who is easy to understand. Delaney was bitter and bratty, and while these didn’t exactly endear her to me, I could still see where she was coming from, and the way she acted seemed realistic and even a little reasonable.
I felt like the setting came to life really well, particularly the Hundred Acre Wood. Murdoch did a great job putting us right there with Carey, which just made certain things that much worse when they came to light. There was a strong juxtaposition between the idyllic nature of the forest and the horrific things Carey and her sister went through while living there.
I think If You Find Me would be good for fans of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, since it’s got the similar theme of a teenage girl finding and learning how to use her voice.
Rating: 5/5 Stars