By Emily Murdoch
Started: 23rd August 2014
Finished: 23rd August 2014
I picked this book up in the sale in Waterstones, the cover and tagline (“What happens in the woods, stays in the woods…”) caught my eye and the blurb simply couldn’t be ignored. I was determined to read it the minute I found time, and now I have!
The novel is narrated by teenage Carey; it starts in the woods where she lives in hiding with her drug addict mum and six year old sister, Jenessa (or just Nessa for short). It’s not unusual for their mother to disappear for a few weeks, but two months have passed and she still hasn’t returned. Suddenly two strangers enter Carey’s territory and take her, and her, sister into the civilised world. If You Find Me follows their new lives in a new world, whilst trying to forget the past that haunts them.
I adored Carey, she was such a mature, strong girl who also had an element of vulnerability about her which enhanced her character. She had a distinct way of speaking which was a really simple, and effective, way of showing that she isn’t from the same world we all know. That she’s grown up away from it all in the bubble that their mother created for them. The relationship she has with her sister, Jenessa, who has hardly spoken for nearly a year now, is beautiful. Jenessa herself is an amazing character, with brilliant yet innocent lines. She actually speaks my favourite line in the novel “[the baby birds are] Brave, like us. Our mama isn’t here. Does that mean we’re flyin’, too?” I doubt I’ll ever forget that line. I wasn’t too sure about Charlie at first but as the novel carried on I could see how much the girls meant to him. Another character that grew on me (which surprised me) was Delaney, from the moment she was introduced I knew I was going to hate her but towards the end I couldn’t help but like her.
I wasn’t expecting to be thrown straight into the plot the way I was however, as I read on it made perfect sense to begin the novel the way it did. I was worried that I wouldn’t get to see much of them in the woods, but due to well timed flashbacks you do see a good deal of the girls’ lives in the woods. Some are only short and they can be sparse but I liked that, I liked that there was a mystery of their lives before the novel started. After all, what happens in the woods, stays in the woods. The pacing of the novel was well thought out and scenes were added that I wouldn’t have even considered, but I loved the explanations they gave for certain things. There is a secret hidden throughout the novel as to why Jenessa doesn’t talk much anymore. I did have an idea of what happened (as there are a few clues) but that didn’t make the reveal any less shocking.
If You Find Me is split into three parts, The End, The Middle and The Beginning (in that order) each starting with an appropriate quote from “Pooh’s Little Instruction Book.” These clearly divided the book and showed you how the girls were developing. The chapters lengths were all pretty much the same and were a great size, you got enough information but they didn’t drag on at the same time. Although, due to the way the novel is written page after page just flies past and you don’t notice (well, I certainly didn’t). On the back of my copy it says “includes brand-new epilogue” and I can’t imagine the book without the epilogue that I read. It tied up certain loose ends and left the novel on a heartwarming note.
I could ramble about this book for more hours than it took me to read it. I just couldn’t put it down, I had to keep listening to Carey (with or without her g’s). I urge everyone to read this, it’s sensational and easily one of my favourite reads this year. I’d like to thank “Saint Joseph the Patron Saint of Beans” for bringing this book to my attention!