Monday, March 25, 2013

ARC Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
256 Pages

There are some things you can’t leave behind…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 was a novel that immediately drew my attention. I have a fondness for books that break out of the norm for young adult contemporaries, so this book seemed right up my alley. Plus the gorgeous cover and the kind author? I hoped for the best. There was no need to hope. This is a novel that can easily stand on its own two legs.

I'll be honest and say it took me awhile to get into the story. Ms. Murdoch's prose matches the themes in the story--to say they are different from our "every day" books, would be an understatement. Though the voice of the narrator tied the novel together and made it even more realistic, Carey was not one to immediately pull me in, but rather took some time to get used to. Once I did though? I couldn't put it down. I read this from start to finish in a mere hours (though it is pretty short). It was just SO DANG GOOD!

If You Find Me is a haunting story. Carey's journey was horrifying, and utterly heartbreaking. No child should suffer the way she had, but her strength and determination made her inspiring to all. This story may not be real, but by the end, readers will have such a connection with Carey that they will feel her hope and determination for a better future.

Carey has lived in the woods for years, staying in a broken down mobile home with her younger sister. Her mentally ill mother hid them there, coming and going as she pleased and leaving the two young girls to fend for themselves. When two strangers show up and take them from the only home they've ever really known, Carey must deal with the aftermath and reveal the truths she's been able to hide. Why did her sister stop speaking? What is the big secret keeping her from moving forward? Or she can continue to keep them locked away and watch the new life she's been given tumble down around her.

The characters in this story are just… brilliant. Carey, Jenessa, Pixie, Ryan and Melissa? All were able to draw me in and really tug at my heartstrings. Carey's dad may have been my favorite character. While his backstory is a bit obvious from the start, he is the kind of man that young adult fiction should praise. Not perfect, but nurturing and accepting towards his daughter and her sister. Delany is on the other hand of that. While Delany's anger is understandable, that did not make her character any more likable. She was often cruel, very selfish and very often a just plain mean person. I literally felt sick due to some of her actions against Carey. I would love a glimpse inside her head!

The plot is gripping and evocative. So much happens to these two girls in such a short period of time. It's amazing, but surprisingly realistic. The pacing was perfect, in my opinion. The novel tied together fantastically. It wasn't perfect, but especially for a debut, I've been blown away! I could honestly rave about this book all day.

I only have one gripe: the prose--though I wouldn't change it now. It was so unusual that I almost put down the book. I'm so glad that I didn't because this is one of my favorite books of 2013 thus far. A glimpse further down the road would've been nice as well, but I think Ms. Murdoch handles the ending, and story has a whole with a delicate, albeit disturbing grace.

If You Find Me pushes the boundaries of contemporary young adult fiction. It discusses a controversial subject that the author handles gracefully and respectfully, haunting as it may be. Ms. Murdoch is an author to watch! Her writing is poignant and refreshingly emotional. I can only hope that her future works will make us feel as If You Find Me did. Though I'm sure that with the inspiration from where she drew this novel (which you can read in this amazingly powerful guest post from The Midnight Garden), she will provide nothing less.

I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.


  1. This looks amazing! I will have to pick it up for sure!

  2. Awesome review, Em. I do think the dialect might turn some readers off, but I found that I adjusted to it pretty quickly. I'm glad I stuck it out, and I'm glad you loved the book, too.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden


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