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If You Find Me | Emily Murdoch | Review


“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” Source 

If You Find Me is a raw yet beautiful and thought-provoking debut novel from American author Emily Murdoch. This Young Adult Contemporary is told through the words of teenager Carey who has been hidden away in the woods with her mother and younger sister Jenessa for as long as she can remember. Although only young, Carey has been through multiple unnecessary horrors and has had to learn to deal with these for the sake of protecting her little sister, the most important person in her life, who hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. When the girls are found alone in the woods and taken back to the ‘real world’ our story begins as we follow them as they learn to adapt to their new surroundings, new family, how this affects their relationship and learn about the mystery that is the ‘white star night’.

Carey is a brave and formidable character who has almost single-handedly raised her sister whilst being subjected to abuse at the hands of her mother a meth addict and drunk who claims she is hiding Carey out in the woods for her own protection. Thanks to Carey Jenessa is a smart young girl but has been deeply affected by the white star night, so much so that the only one she will speak to is Carey. Throughout the novel the reader is left trying to guess the big secret of what horrors happened on the date Carey refers to as the ‘white star night’ and just what caused Jenessa to stop using her words. Carey’s big secret is revealed in the final part of the novel but this only leaves you with more questions. Usually I’m not a big fan of open endings and tend to become frustrated with the unanswered questions but in this case somehow the ending still felt satisfying.

Although the story handles some more difficult subjects, mainly centred around child abuse, it is very well-written. At first I was unsure how I would get along with Carey’s dialect but once I got to know the character the decision to write in the words she would choose made perfect sense and helped to put across her personality as well as her struggles and I found it really interesting to hear the story from her point of view. One of the strongest parts of the writing is definitely the relationship between the two sisters which is done particularly well. I also enjoyed the mystery element paired with the twists and turns, some more predictable than others, along the way.

Since it is such a short novel at just 256 pages there is not a lot of time to explore the backstory of each individual character so, when this information does come up it is through flashbacks which are randomly placed throughout the text. Unfortunately this was one of the elements that prevented me from giving this book a five star rating as I found them a little jarring at times. The other thing which kept the book from a perfect rating was the subplots introduced in part two, my least favourite of the three sections, which mainly covers Carey starting school and trying to fit in. Although I understand the purpose of these ideas and new characters I did feel that maybe they weren’t all completely necessary and possibly didn’t add value to the overall story.

If you Find Me is a beautifully written, well-paced and gripping read with a unique concept which will stay with you long after finishing. I would definitely recommend picking up this impressive debut and am looking forward to reading future releases from author Emily Murdoch.

*Review of an eARC c/o Netgalley: Although I received a copy of this book free of charge this has not influenced my opinion and my review, as always, is 100% honest

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here.
 Image via Goodreads

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