by Emily Murdoch, published by Indigo (Orion).
Fifteen year old Carey and six year old Jenessa can only ever remember living in the woods, in a broken down camper van with their mentally ill mother. The girl’s mother leaves them for weeks at a time, going into the town and leaving them with only some canned foods and a shotgun. One day, whilst their mother is out, two strange people arrive, claiming that Carey’s mum sent a letter to them asking them to look after them, because she can’t cope anymore. Everything changes for Carey and Jenessa, forever…
I received this book yesterday from the lovely Nina at Orion, and I picked it up just to read the first chapter before finishing some other books. Well, that plan failed. I couldn’t put it down, and devoured it in a couple of hours. If You Find Me was so amazing and I just couldn’t bring myself to stop reading it! The whole idea of two girls and their broken mother living in the forest, away from civilization just had me hooked- it was so different from anything else I’ve read. They had been rescued from possible starvation not even fifty pages in, and had moved into their long-lost father’s new home along with his new family not even halfway through the book, so I wasn’t very sure where the rest of the story would go. However, the rest of the plot was strong and didn’t disappoint, with lots of clever links in Carey’s new life back that go back to her old one- like the boy she meets in her new high school.
I absolutely loved the protagonist Carey, as her narration was fantastic and full of heart. Her voice totally captured me from the minute I read the first page, and I enjoyed reading her terrifying, unique story. I felt her emotions and was rooting for her throughout the book. I also liked the character of her sister, Jenessa- she was just so loveable and I just wanted to hug her because she’d been through so much. The reasons behind her muteness and personality were really shocking, and I felt so much sympathy towards her because of not only that, but what her mum did to her. Despite the fact that their mum isn’t actually in the book (She’s only mentioned by characters, or shown in Carey’s flashbacks), I felt I knew a lot about her by the end of the book, and her actions shocked me so much. As you can probably already tell, If You Find Me dealt with a lot of very serious themes that brought tears to my eyes frequently… Things like the abuse from Carey’s mum, the emotional blackmailing from Carey’s new stepsister Delaney, and more. Carey’s frequent flashbacks made her past events so much more real and scary.
It’s an extremely emotional roller coaster of a book, and I bet more than one point will make you cry, but it’s full of hope and free will too, which makes you smile. Definitely recommended for thirteen/fourteen and up, this is a must read which I’m sure will capture the hearts of so many people. The characters and the tear-jerking story will stay with you long after you close the book after reading the last page- I know they did with me.