Wednesday, July 30, 2014

If You Find Me - Emily Murdoch

If You Find Me book cover
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Publisher: Indigo
Publication Date: March 16, 2013
Source/Format: Gifted by Judith (Thanks!) || Paperback

For almost as long as she can remember, Carey has lived in the heart of the woods with her drug-addicted mother and six-year-old sister, Jenessa.

Their mother routinely disappears for weeks at a time, leaving the girls to cope alone. Survival is Carey's only priority - until strangers arrive and everything changes.. (from Goodreads)

It’s no easy thing to start a book that you know a friend has loved. My wonderful friend Judith had gifted me with a beautiful edition of If You Find Me, one of her favorite books! Despite the slight apprehension, I dove into this novel headfirst. Happily, I can publicly declare that If You Find Me was an incredibly emotional & wonderful reading experience. 

It’s so hard to write about this novel, since it really moved me on a level that feels personal and intimate and wholly unique to me. So instead of a traditional review, I’m just going to list the things I know about If You Find Me, things that you might find relevant and, hopefully, intriguing.

If You Find Me is a story about two sisters, Carey and Jenessa. Carey, the older sister, is the main narrator. It is through her eyes that we experience everything – from their rescue, to their reunion with their father and their adjustment to a life very different from the one they lived in the woods. Carey is a character I could instantly identify with. She basically stood in as a mother for Jenessa (who happens to be a precious, wonderful little girl), accepting all the responsibilities that came with that position. I admired her courage, her tenacity and her willingness to put aside her own concerns in favor of what was best for the sister she loved so well. Their bond was so strong, so true, and so heart-warming – and I immediately identified with that.

If You Find Me is a story about family. It’s not just about these sisters, though I could possibly have been content with just that. No, this story also introduces us to various members of their family. A mother, a woman who loved her children but was riddled with issues and weakness. A father, who learns to adjust to the two children who have suddenly graced his life, who genuinely loves them and wants them to be comfortable, happy… safe. A stepmother, who opened her heart and her home to these two girls without question. A stepsister, who reacts predictably to the phenomenon of going from an only child to a sister overnight. Each member of their family becomes key in shaping Carey and Jenessa’s personalities and lives.

If You Find Me is a story about support. Apart from family, there are other people who become key to Carey and Jenessa readjusting to life in the real world (our world, basically). There’s the social worker, who works with getting the girls up to speed and comfortable with their new lives. There’s also Carey’s friends, with one boy in particular really going the extra mile to be her friend. One of the things I loved best about this novel is how it emphasizes how important it is to have a strong support system when faced with big life changes. There’s a special emphasis on how, even though there’s a lot of bad in the world, there’s also a lot of good to be found too.

If You Find Me is a story with surprising details. I didn’t know going into the novel that Carey played violin, and played it beautifully. I had no idea that Murdoch would take special care to outline this boy who has a special part in Carey’s life. Or how little moments with Melissa (the stepmother) or the social worker could be so profoundly moving and special and feel so essential to this story. Or that there’s a moment in particular where everything shifts for Carey and Jenessa, a “white star” moment that broke my heart.

If You Find Me is a story beautifully told. This is a simple story, and yet it hits the heart with quite a punch. Murdoch certainly knew what she was doing as she crafted her tale! I thought her choice of words, turns of phrase and even the pacing was perfectly executed. It was so easy to fall into Carey’s story, and to grow to care for the people surrounding her who loved her. It might be a contemporary that’s a shade quieter than most, but it’s still so, so beautiful.

Clearly, If You Find Me left a favorable impression on me (in spite of the fact that I cried twice while reading it). It’s one of those stories that snuck up on me right at the start, and immediately made away with my heart in its grasp till the end. I loved reading Carey’s story, even with all the tragedy in it – because there was hope to balance it out in equal measures. It’s a great story, and I can easily endorse it as being worth a read.

5 comments:

  1. This just makes me so happy, A! I can't tell you how happy I am that you enjoyed this story and how much I agree with everything you said. You wrote my thoughts about this book down more perfectly than I ever could have. <3

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  2. This was a very intense book, for sure. I really liked how honest it was and how it could be brutal but also hopeful. Great review!

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  3. Alexa! I'm convinced that I need to pick up this book now! I was hesitant at first, but dang girl. All of those elements are things that I love in a book! I love it when there is a strong relationship between characters, especially sister ones. Looks like this book contains a lot of feels, and add that in with fabulous writing & details--eep! Lovely review, Alexa!

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  4. Your first two points have me sold - I love books about siblings and family. Glad to hear it's so well written, I'll have to check it out!

    Fabulous review :)

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  5. ohh, this sounds like a wonderful book! I love that it's about family and it sounds really poignant. I probably wouldn't normally pick it up but hmm maybe.

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