Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

If You Find Me
Emily Murdoch
Series: None
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffith
Number of Pages: 352
Rating: 4 stars

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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 the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the "normal" life of school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away 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.
There's no mistaking the fact that If You Find Me is a thoroughly compelling, affecting, and poignant read, and the fact that it is a debut novel makes those attributes all the more impressive. At first, I wasn't entirely sure whether or not If You Find Me would be something I'd end up liking, putting into consideration I'm not the type of reading who goes actively out of their way for deep and poignant novels concerning child abuse and topics similar to child abuse, but I am unquestionably satisfied that I ended up deciding to give If You Find Me a chance, even if it broke my heart a countless amount of times.

The strongest aspect in If You Find Me, in my opinion, is the relationship between the two sisters, Carey and Jenessa. I've been looking for a strong sisterly bond in young adult for quite a while, now, and with all of my searching I've only been disappointed. That is, of course, until I read If You Find Me. The relationship that is Carey and Jenessa's is the epitome of a strong and unbreakable sisterly bond, and experiencing this relationship develop more and more with each passing page was both moving and entirely breathtaking.

The writing, too, is absolutely gorgeous, and almost lyrical, in a sense. Upon reading the first few pages, I wasn't entirely sure if the prose would click with me, being written in dialect (albeit not heavily), but those uncertainties were soon put to rest as I began to barely even notice the novel was written in dialect, and everything began to fuse wonderfully. The prose complemented each and every one of the characters, and the broken way in which Carey and Jenessa spoke emphasized their state in a subtle yet touching manner.

However, with all positives, there must be some negatives, and If You Find Me, unfortunately, is no exception. Even at its incredibly short length (only 256 pages!), I felt that quite a few moments since the girls were taken from their "home" in the beginning were too long drawn out and, to be blunt, tedious. Upon passing the halfway mark, I began to gradually lose interest in a few portions of the story, but not so much so that it would hinder my reading experience drastically, but just enough for my rating to be lowered from five stars to four. As well as the issue of not being connected to the story in a few particular scenes, the flashbacks, while entirely necessary, were awkwardly placed in between scenes with no warning that a flashback was coming. While this issue, in scope, may not be too huge, it did provide me with moments of confusion, until I came to the realization that a flashback had occurred in the middle of a scene.

With those two issues aside, however, it is extremely evident that Emily Murdoch has an immeasurable amount of talent as a writer. While those two flaws mentioned above kept this from being a five star read for me, I can say with absolute certainty that this will be a five star read for many, many people. A debut that is powerful, heartbreaking, and ultimately stunning, If You Find Me is not a novel to be missed by readers who enjoy feeling like they've been punched in the gut repeatedly throughout a novel, or really anyone looking for a a wonderful and incredibly long-lasting novel that will make them feel and think constantly.


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  2. So I hadn’t heard of this book until you and some others blew up my Twitter/Goodreads feed with it last week. This sounds super super good, too. It reminds me of another 2013 debut, Pretty Girl-13, which is loved very hard. The strong sisterly bond is very exciting—seriously why is it so hard to find a meaningful sibling relationship? And yay, lyrical writing! My favorite without a doubt. So glad you liked this, Blythe, and I’m so glad you brought it to my attention!

  3. *covers ears* NO, I have to red it before I read any more reviews!!

  4. Sort of agree with you about the flashback scenes. I did give this one 5 stars as I loved it to death and my emotional reaction felt very visceral, but transitioning into those would have been nice.

    And I love how you say that this is not the type of book you normally read because that is exactly how I felt. I was afraid I wouldn't like this but I ended up loving it, so clearly I need to read more books like this!


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