NOW INCLUDING A BRAND-NEW EPILOGUE!
There are some things you can't leave behind…
In If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, 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; the one bright spot is 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.
Many years ago, 14-year-old Carey and her younger sister, Nessa, were kidnapped, hidden in the backwoods of Tennessee, and raised apart from society by their meth-addicted mother. After having abandoned the girls for months, she contacts the girls' father, who rescues them from the trailer where they've been living on their own, whisking them away to his gorgeous home, his understanding new wife, and her less understanding daughter. Murdoch's debut is poetic and beautifully written, and therein lies part of the problem. Carey's narration wavers between the gaps caused by her isolated upbringing and moments of beyond-her-years brilliance ("handburgers" and fries are a mystery, yet she tests two grades ahead of her age and often delivers lines like, "I duck my head and smile, unmoored by the flood of unexpected emotion"). Add in Carey's model-level beauty and virtuosity as a violinist, and the novel's sense of realism takes a hit. That said, Carey and Nessa's story is memorable and deeply moving, and readers will find it very easy to fall in love with these girls. Ages 12 up.