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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

REVIEW: If You Find Me, by Emily Murdoch

If You Find Me
Fourteen-year-old Carey and six-year-old Jenessa have been living in the woods with their mother for as long as they can remember; the sheltering trees and a broken-down camper are all they know. But what they’ve never been told is that Carey vanished from the real world ten years ago, when their mother took her, causing an uproar in the media—and in her father's life.

Now, abandoned by the mother they trusted, they’re often left alone for long periods of time to fend for themselves—until, in one moment, everything changes. They're found by Carey's father and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world, one of shopping malls, shiny appliances, new clothes and mouth-watering food. Carey desperately wants to believe in this new reality, but is held back by a deep and painful loyalty to her mentally ill mother, who gave Carey her violin and taught her how to play the soaring music that helps her survive. 

And then there’s the other piece of Carey’s past that haunts her . . . the story of what happened to her and Jenessa on that dark night in the woods . . . the reason Jenessa hasn't spoken a word in over a year. Will Carey ever be able to trust her father and his family enough to fit into this new life? Will Jenessa finally break her silence and ruin the cocoon of safety that Carey’s built so carefully around them? And what will happen if the secret comes out?

You know, I get these books from NetGalley, read the blurb, request it, and by the time I actually read the book, I don't remember why I requested it or what the blurb said. Sometimes that works out okay, other times I'm doing a good job of scratching my head.

This time, this book seriously snagged me. It's face-paced and compelling. There are some heart-breaking moments, impossible for this reader not to tear up over. And though it is YA (not simply because Carey is 14), it doesn't read like YA. Emily Murdoch hasn't "written down" to her audience, but instead assumes an honest maturity. Carey is a bit on the too mature side, which is obvious from some of the things her mother made her endure before disappearing, but Murdoch keeps her (and the reader) still on the side of innocence. While there is no doubt what happened in the forest in Tennessee, the memory flashbacks are not gruesome or too detailed.

I read that this is Emily Murdoch's debut novel. What a great start to what will hopefully be a prolific career. I love her characters--she's definitely got everyone mastered. From Carey's too grown up, too mature, too naive personality, down to Janessa's sweet, innocent, desperate one. I forgot I was reading fiction, and for realistic fiction, that's perfect.

But, Ms. Murdoch, if you make me cry like that again, I'm not sure I'll read your 3rd book. (Just're on my list of authors to watch and wait for.)

What do you think??

Shop Indie BookstoresDisclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from St. Martin's Press through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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