by Emily Murdoch
Published: March 2013 by Orion
Rating: 4 sofas
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 the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the “normal” life of school, clothes and boys.
Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away 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.
I think I kind of passed over this book when it first enter blogger circles, as I didn’t particularly take to the US cover. However, after reading more and more rave reviews about it, I had to read it. Luckily Nina at Orion was kind enough to send me a copy. If You Find Me has over 2000 reviews on Goodreads and still has a rating of more than 4 stars (at time of posting), which is really rare. This is just one statistic to demonstrate how much people are enjoying this book. However, I still went in to it with dubious expectations.
Straight away we are plunged into Carey’s world in the woods, where her mum leaves her and her sister for weeks at a time in their camper in the woods. When they are discovered and returned to their father, we explore what it is like to readjust to ‘normal’ life. I think one of the reasons I was hesitant of reading this book is it sounded similar to the many sad nonfiction abuse books that are out there. I used to read a lot of these as a teenager, but I read one recently and struggled to finish it. My reading tastes have changed, and while I am interested in scenarios like this, I find reading about them terribly depressing. I like to read to escape normal life and this just isn’t something I currently enjoy reading.
That being said, I really enjoyed If You Find Me. Although it is evident from the start Carey has a secret, I found her adjustment to normal life really interesting, especially the descriptions of the hotel and the food when they first emerge from the woods. It is actually so emotional reading them experience a shower for the first time, and really made me think about how much we take for granted. I love the way the book started at ‘the end’; this highlights how much of the book is a journey. I felt for Carey as a main character, and even something tiny such as her remembering to put a ‘g’ on the end of the words such as ‘nothin’ tugged at my heartstrings.
The only thing I will say that was missing from the book was a bit more action. There was a big build up and a lot of mystery surrounding Carey’s secret, but it was actually something I guessed pretty early on so it fell kinda flat for me. However, the way it was presented and the emotional rollercoaster Carey and Nessa go through is worth reading alone. Emily Murdoch is a great storyteller, and this is a fantastic debut novel. I look forward to seeing what else she has planned, and she is definitely an author to watch. 4 sofas!