Thursday, July 25, 2013 10:00

Review 177. Emily Murdoch – If you find me.

15793231Title: If you find me.
Author: Emily Murdoch.
Pages: 256.
Published: March 26th 2013.
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sort: Stand-alone.
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.

This book felt similar to Liz Coley – Pretty girl thirteen, another book I really liked. This one is just as dark, gritty and gripping and you can’t help yourself – you have to fall in love with the main characters. It was hard to put down and I didn’t finish is because I had to sleep.

Carey and Nessa (short for Jenessa) were kidnapped by their ‘mother’ years ago. She has been gone for a while now and the girls are running out of food, until their father finds them. They are taken away from the only home they remember and they have to adjust to a complete new world: food, clothes, school. It’s especially hard for Carey, who took the role of mother for her silent sister. She is suddenly just her sister, but she has to watch Nessa close. The girl is starting to talk and Carey is afraid she might tell them their greatest secret. A secret which might risk Carey’s new life with her father, his new wife and their stepdaughter Delaney.

This book felt very realistic. Carey sometimes longs for her simple life with just Nessa; the only life she has ever know. It’s hard for her to adjust, but she will do anything to keep Nessa safe and happy. I liked the way she remembers the good side of their past, because that life made her this awesome character. I understand that it’s hard to let go and I love how Murdoch portrayed her struggle.

Carey is so loving and sweet for Nessa. Their relationship is one of the best aspects of this book. These girls have suffered so much in their lives, but they grew up to be admirable characters. Their bond is strong and one of the best I’ve seen in a while. It’s unbelievable that Carey is only fifteen years, because it was easy to connect with her.  My heart broke when I saw the way her ‘mother’ treated her and the things she had to deal with. Nessa is cute and I was happy with the way she developed under her father’s care.

The side characters were perfectly described as well. Melissa is amazing: she took Nessa and Carey under her wings like they are her own blood and she understands them. I had a hard time with Delaney, but I started to warm up for her. After a while I started to understand that it must be difficult for her too. Their father is a bit underdeveloped, but it’s clear that he loves his daughters and he will do anything to make them happy.

The writing-style is great. Carey talks with an accent and that was subtle interwoven. It never bothered me and it felt very natural. The descriptions were good and some situations gave me tears. That doesn’t happen very often, so it’s a sign that her writing worked for me. The ending was a bit abrupt for my taste. I wasn’t ready to part with Carey and Nessa yet.
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Mel is a microbiology technician who is obsessed with Disney, fairytale retellings and fantasy. If she's not reading or blogging, she's either busy with gaming, hanging out with family or watching a TV show. She loves summer and bright nail polish. One of her dreams is to travel the world. She has found her Prince Charming and they are together for 7+ years.


  1. Yay! So glad you loved this book too :D I just thought that it was amazing. <3 Sigh. Loved the characters too :) But oh. This book was heartbreaking as well. I too felt like it ended way too soon (A) but I remember the author talking a few months back about writing an epilogue? Not sure when we'll get to see it, but I'm sure she was writing it :) Great review Mel. <3

  2. Really, I've been seeing so many four- and five-stars for this book it's not even funny. Realism is something very important to me in these kinds of books, so it's great to hear that that aspect was present, and I like the sound of the writing style. Nicely developed background characters are always a plus, too (seriously, a lot of books seem to be lacking this, don't you think?). I really, REALLY do need to pick this book up and give it a go soon! Lovely review as always, darling!

  3. Have been looking forward to getting this one. I need to bump it up on the TBR list if you liked it that much. Sounds like such a great read!

  4. I thought this book was very powerful and I agree about the writing style!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  5. This book was really emotional - the first book that has made me cry. Ever. I absolutely agree on Carey's maturity; it was realistic because of the circumstances that she grew up in. If it had been any other way - if Carey had been self-pitying and whiny (even though she kind of deserved to be like that because of how hard her life was) - I wouldn't have loved her as much as I did. And Nessa was just so sweet :x

    And the writing style kind of fell in line with the mood of the book; I liked Carey's subtle accent, too. It always made me smile when she would remind herself about the "g's".

    1. I agree. Carey had enough reasons to have self-pity. The fact that she didn't whine made her even more awesome.

  6. Dit klinkt goed! Deze komt zeker op mijn to read lijstje. Dank je voor de tip!

  7. Eep, I am glad you enjoyed this one! I still have yet to read this one but ir sounds utterly magnificent.

    Fab review, Mel! <33

  8. I REALLY appreciated Melissa's role in the story. Her character was so brilliantly incorporated, without it feeling at all forced. I wish there were more parental figures like her around. I'm so glad you liked this book, Mel! It's such a special read. :)

  9. I agree with everything you said. I loved how Carey took care of and protected Nessa. And I didn't think much about her being 15 before you mention it because she IS so relatable and mature. I am disgusted by her mother. Melissa was a blessing. I loved the writing. The story. The emotion. The lesson. Everything. So glad you loved this one too Mel!

    1. That's why I keep writing her 'mother' between brackets. Giving birth to children doesn't make you automatically a mother.

  10. I love dark and gritty so this one is already on my wishlist. Sounds so good. I really like the sound of the sister bond and of course I'm dying to know what that secret is!

    BookishTrish @ Between the Lines

  11. You know, I don't think I've seen a single bad review of this book. Even though your quotation of mother already gives me shudders, it sounds like this is the kind of read that's made all the better for the kind of emotions that it'll give you. It's good to know that there's a strong sister bond there; it seems that few YA books have one without some sort of romance. And to craft an accent that's not irritating but is subtle? That's talent.

  12. So happy you loved it! I thought it was really realistic and touching, without all the drama that sometimes accompanies this type of story. The characters were all spectacular, even the secondary ones, as you said.

    1. I agree! Most tougher contemporary can soon end up being too dramatic.

  13. Okay, I'll have to give it another try. I had to stop because I couldn't connect with her and I was bothered by her talking some. But you make it sound so great! Love your review too :)


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