by Emily Murdoch
Published: March 26, 2013
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.
Wow. Just. You know how I'm really picky when it comes to contemporary books. I mean, I read a lot of them mostly because I finish them in no time and also because of the hype. Same reason why I chose If You Find Me to be my next read, completely ignoring my TBR list shooting daggers at me for picking a new arrival. The cover alone speaks a lot. It's definitely eye-catching but once I finished the book and looked at it again, I realized it's perfect.
It has been a long time since fifteen year-old Carey and her younger sister, Jenessa, last saw their mother. Living in a camper in the middle of the woods with no food left to suffice their hunger, they cling to the hope that their mother would come back sooner with the supplies they would need. Aware of the dangers of being alone in a dark forest, Carey is always prepared to do anything to protect her sister but when one day unexpected visitors came to help them saying their mother isn't coming back, Carey was torn with hurt and indecision, leaving behind the place she knew as her home and accepting the offer that she knew would change their lives forever.
Once they were introduced to their new family, it was like living in a whole new world. Being away from civilization since Carey was 5 years old with no proper education, no friends or relatives except the occasional drunks who happen to pass by their trailer, everything comes as a struggle to keep up especially when their dark pasts threaten to tear the life they've grown comfortable with and knowing the truth of what really happened before Carey was thrust into the life she'd lived for almost 10 years.
Carey is such a strong, mature and smart character. She's been through a lot and is looked up to by her little sister who sees her as the mother they never had. But no matter how difficult it was to live like they did, they grew up intelligent, talented and respectful. The bond she has with her sister is very compelling. Carey is so protective of Jenessa and they know each other very well that even if they are presently in a world that considers them strangers they have each other to lean on. It's so real, that connection they have, that I can't help but empathize with them.
Thinking about all the things they've gone through is like a punch in the gut. The story is so heartbreaking and inspiring that everytime I think about it, I can feel this big lump stuck in my throat. With a wonderful prose that would surely pull every readers in, If You Find Me is an excellent debut novel that would let you see the beauty in everything. I applaud Ms. Murdoch for the excellent voice she gave Carey.
"Yes. Your dad couldn't understand how you girls could ever be homesick, especially after the way you were living. But I could. We make attachments to what's familiar. We find the beauty, even in the lack. That's human. We make the best of what we're given."
"If you find me, take me home."