Goodreads Summary: There are some things you can’t leave behind…Goodreads / The Book Depository
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.
Genre: Young Adult, contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
How I Got It: Library
First Line: "Mama says no matter how poor folks are, whether you're a have or a have-not, or break your mama's back on the cracks in between, the world gives away the best stuff on the cheap."
Favorite Quote: "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."
I'm really glad I saw a bunch of glowing reviews for this book, because it's probably not something I would have picked up otherwise. I think the cover is interesting if you look at it kind of close up, but it's not really eye catching if you were in the library or the book store and just browsing. The synopsis, though, is pretty intriguing, and after all I had read about the story, my expectations were pretty high.
I'm happy to say that If You Find Me delivered on most of them. The way it is written is gripping and difficult to put down; I loved Carey's voice as a narrator. A lot of touch issues are brought up throughout, it never really shies away or candy-coats what happened to the characters. And while it really made my heart hurt for the them, I appreciate such bluntness in a book, because the truth isn't pretty. I loved the relationship between Jenessa and Carey. It's so strong and so loving; it's a good thing Carey turned out to be so mature as to take control of caring for her younger sister, because their mother certainly wasn't going to do it. Reading about abusive/negligent mothers is always hard because that's just not how it should be.
I thought that it was very realistic that Carey would have a harder time getting used to life in the civilized world, with school and all, since she is older and little kids like Jenessa adjust to things easier. The loving nature of their new stepmother, Melissa, was exactly what both of the girls needed. If You Find Me isn't a very long book, and I'm glad the author decided not to stretch out the ending, because the novel really stopped on a hopeful note. There are plenty of meaningful quotes, and the pacing is just right.
The only thing I had an issue with was the stepsister, Delaney. I can understand why she would be frustrated, and obviously since I've never been in her shoes I don't know how I'd react, but she was overly cruel at times. It just seems like if you're parents take in two girls (one the daughter of your stepfather and one not) who have spent their whole lives in the woods, you would realize that they've had difficult lives and been a little more understanding. I never really grew to like Delaney, even towards the end of the book.
And also, the romance. I really liked how Carey was able to form a new relationship with someone, and a boy she really liked at that, but at first I thought their thing was moving a bit fast. Eventually, though, we're told that (view spoiler), so it made a little more sense. But at the same time Carey says to herself that she loves him after having spoken to him like three times after leaving the woods. I thought it was way too early to be having that thought, no matter how nice Ryan was or how much Carey remembered him. Even with my minor reservations, If You Find Me is an excellent debut novel that I would gladly recommend to anyone.
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