Thursday, March 14, 2013

If You Find Me

If You Find Me, by Emily Murdoch.

Mama says no matter how poor folks are, whether you're a have, a have-not, or break your mama's back on the cracks in between, the world gives away the best stuff on the cheap. Like, the way the white-hot mornin' light dances in diamonds across the surface of our creek. Or the creek itself, babblin' music all day long like Nessa when she was a baby. Happiness is free, Mama says, as sure as the blinkin' stars, the withered arms the trees throw down for our fires, the waterproofin' on our skin, and the tongues of wind curlin' the walnut leaves before slidin' down our ears.

It might just be the meth pipe talkin'. But I like how
free sounds all poetic-like."

Emily Murdoch
If You Find Me is the story of two girls, 14-year-old Carey (the narrator above) and her 6-year-old sister Jenessa (Nessa, for short), who live in the Obed Wild and Scenic River National Park, nicknamed "the Hundred Acre Wood." They live with their mother, a former concert violinist who is now a meth addict, in a trailer in the middle of the park. Their mother sometimes leaves them to get supplies, but always comes back. When "the man" and a social worker find the girls, though, it's been two months since their mother left, and they have been surviving solely on beans for food. "The man" ends up being Carey's father, whom she barely remembers, and they tell her and Nessa that their mother has abandoned them, this time for good.

Official synopsis:
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. 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.

I found Carey and Nessa's story to be an interesting one. It is Nessa who actually has less trouble adjusting to the "real world," because she has never known a life outside of their camper trailer; Carey starts remembering things in bits and pieces once she's back. Their mother, while a meth addict, used to be a brilliant concert violinist, and she taught Carey all that she knew; in other words, there are shades of gray in this novel, because their mother, although an addict, taught her this skill. They were also homeschooled, although Carey mostly taught Nessa, and when they are tested to see what grades they should be put in, they actually test above their ages: Carey becomes a sophomore in high school, and Nessa goes into the 2nd grade.

The story itself was heartbreaking. Many children are abducted each year, but it's crazy to think that it could take so long - ten years, in Carey's case - to be found. When I started reading this novel, Carey's narration was a little "backwoods," as she would call it (see the excerpt above) and I wasn't sure I would be able to get through the entire text. However, the story itself is captivating, and will definitely hold your attention throughout; the fact that it's told from Carey's point-of-view undoubtedly contributes to this.

If You Find Me will be in stores on March 26th. 4 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel to review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.


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