If You Find Me is the one of the most compelling, poignant and heart-wrenching debuts I’ve read this year. On first finishing it, I remember just sitting in my room feeling utterly bereft and speechless. As I result I decided to wait a short time before writing my review, but then university became intense and unfortunately I haven’t had the time to do this until recently.
Emily Murdoch’s debut tells the story of fifteen year old Carey. She lives in a camper van in the woods with her younger sister, Jenessa, and mother, however when her mother leaves them and two strangers arrive at their home everything changes. Suddenly she’s being thrown into the ‘real’ world and high school all while trying to protect her mute sister and the secrets she’s been forced to keep.
This book broke me. There’s only ever been two other books that I can remember reading which left me in tears. One was when I was a child and was about a rabbit which became famous on an advert and then just died (scarring my childhood in the process) and the other was another contemporary I read last year. If You Find Me left me in a daze once I finished.
Carey is brilliantly bought to life on the page and her narration is perfect. At first I confess I was a little concerned the colloquial and dialect aspects of the book would grate on me, but I quickly became used to it. Murdoch’s prose is beautiful and poetic, the sort that makes me a little jealous as a writer and that as a reader I cannot get enough of. As Carey is an outsider to the world most of us know, it was so interesting to see her observations and her struggles to fit in all the while grappling with her secrets. I read the book and desperately needed her to be okay and to know what had happened to her and Jenessa.
The cast of secondary characters are all well evoked and written. Carey’s dad in particular stood out to me as really interesting. There is a tiny hint of romance for Carey but it’s not a primary focus and works appropriately within the book. I loved how Carey developed slow friendships with people and started taking steps into her new life as the book progressed.
Heartbreaking and haunting at times but always beautifully written, If You Find Me is a stunning debut and Emily Murdoch a YA writer to keep an eye on. I received a free proof copy for review from the lovely people at Indigo/Orion. As always, my review is not affected by the means in which I receive a book. If You Find Me is available to buy now.
****** Potential Spoiler Warning Below: *******
I don’t want to ‘spoil’ the twists, as it were, however feel I should warn that this books deals with content and abusive situations that some readers may find triggering.