I stumbled upon this book. Browsed through NetGalley, intrigued by the cover, liked the summary, requested it, and was mysteriously granted access. (My requests often get rejected, so it’s nice to be welcomed.)
Let’s face it: Emily Murdoch’s If You Find Me is a heartbreaker. With the narrator growing up in a Tennessee forest, basically raising her little sister while their meth addict mother is who knows where for how long – this story was bound to be nothing less than sad.
But the focus of the tale is life after the forest. Carey Blackburn had always been told that her father beat her and her mum, so she’s confused that he seems the nicest guy alive. Her selectively mute sister is speaking more and more. Her stepmother is wonderful, and her stepsister is difficult though she does love them.
So yes, it has a happy ending. All the sad stuff is in the past, so things only get better. Of course, Carey feels that she doesn’t deserve good things and happiness, because her mum poisoned her against it, saying that everything has its price – usually flesh. And my word, Carey is so precocious that she’s almost annoying. Almost. It’s a thin line, but the author keeps readers on the right side. Carey’s smart, into poetry, testing two grades above her age, a talented violinist, and quickly makes a new friend and a new boyfriend.
And I think that’s what stops this book from being a five-star read: the obstacles are in the past, not in the present. The worst is already over. And I don’t know much about farm life – and I don’t know what Carey’s father and Melissa do for livings – but how do they have enough money to afford completely new wardrobes and things for two new children?
If You Find Me best works if you feel it; not think it. But I’m desperate to read whatever else the mega-talented Emily Murdoch writes. Jodi Picoult fans would be wise to give this a go.