If You Find Me - YA Review by Rayna Grace

Reader: Rayna Grace C.
Age: 14
Title: If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
Pub Date: 03/26/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Honestly, I am not even sure what to say. This book was... Mind-blowing? Appalling? Crazy? Really, all of the above. The main character, Carey, slowly revealed the horrors her mother put her and her sister through as the book progressed in an understated, almost everyday manner, and you really could tell that Carey thought that this was the way the world really should have been, not like the world her father and stepmom tried to include her in. The two biggest conflicts in this book were Carey’s struggle to assimilate into the normal world and to cope with the abuse she endured while with her mother, which at times went hand-in-hand. Carey’s (slightly) warped outlook on reality was very unique and seemed to fit her backstory perfectly, which I loved. Everything in this book seemed so tangible and real, I wouldn’t be surprised if the author had done an interview with a real person who had been in a similar situation. Even the parts that could be seen as implausible were given explanations. For example, Carey and Jenessa had no previous schooling, but each tested one year above their grade level. This was because their mother was a very accomplished musician who taught Carey how to play violin as well as gave her workbooks for each grade level, which Carey then handed down and explained to Jenessa. This was a very well thought out and complex book like no other that I have ever read.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was memorable because usually with books that are meant to come off as messed up and/or out of this world, they flaunt the gore or insanity like the newest circus animal, but this book was somehow different. Throughout the story, Carey hid both her amazing talents and the hell she had been through as hard as she possibly could, which is nearly the opposite of so many fictional characters and real people alike. Carey was one of the strongest, most complex characters that I have ever read about, hands down. Her complete selflessness and protectiveness when it came to her sister was, in my opinion, one of the best aspects of the book. Most of the time, Carey wished only for Jenessa’s happiness because she couldn’t see it for herself. This book was equally appalling and adorable, which is an extremely hard thing to do in a book dealing with abuse. Not only that, but it accomplished the even harder task of not being grandiose despite the awesome skills and terrors the protagonist carried with her.
Cover: The cover was really good, in my opinion, and the model did seem to resemble the main character very accurately, and the woods in the background really made the cover.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Carey Blackburn and her sister, Jenessa, lived in a trailer hidden in the woods of Tennessee National Park for almost all of their lives. When their meth-addicted mother leaves them for good to fend for themselves, Carey's father takes custody of them both. The secrets they feel they must keep from this time, however, forces Jenessa into near-muteness and takes an extreme emotional toll on Carey, especially when she enrolls in high school.

tags: coming of age / BFYA nominee / ya lit

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