This review also appears at Once Upon a Prologue.
Right then, my heart breaks. It’s like it’s been waiting to break forever, and Ryan’s words crack it wide open.
After reading several lackluster books in a row, I went searching for something amazing, and found it in If You Find Me. Fellow blogger Evie told me it was going to be emotional, but I don’t think I was prepared for quite HOW much so. Emily Murdoch’s story is about so much: loss, hope, struggle, grief, triumph, family – and as I read Carey’s story, so many feelings wound through my heart, until I felt tears stream down my face before I finished. Tears, folks. Let’s just be honest – this book broke me down, and that doesn’t happen very often. At once, I was pulled into a heart-breaking tale of survival.
Carey is such a strong presence, as the main character, but then again, so are most of the other characters: innocent, scared Jenessa, welcoming Melissa, and Charlie, the long-absent father to the girls. Just why he hasn’t been in their life was a mystery tangled around a web of falsehoods their mother told them. Present mostly in flashbacks, “Mama,” has a voice soured by drug use and desperation, and if I could have reached through the pages and slapped her, I would have. I despaired when Carey and Nessa missed her, and rejoiced when they started opening up to their new lives. Their raising both hurt and helped them in various ways, forcing Carey to grow up faster than she should have, and silencing Nessa’s sweet voice. Watching both of them grow and open up over the course of If You Find Me was precious and heart-warming. My heart went out to Carey so many times for all she went through. The more I read, the more attached I grew to Carey.If You Find Me was not an easy book to read. I teared up several times and openly cried twice toward the end.
Several moments in Emily’s book give you indications of just how bad Carey’s life was, and how much she endured to keep Jenessa safe and somewhat innocent. Seeing Carey and especially little Nessa’s wide-eyed wonder at things like hamburgers, toothbrushes, and soft beds shattered my heart. It’s in Carey’s struggle to blend into high school, in her interactions with others – with her father, her stepsister, and especially Ryan, a boy whose ability to treat Carey so tenderly endeared him to me. I also really loved seeing Carey’s relationship with her father, and with her step-mother slowly evolve, until they were more than strangers. They shared such sweet, touching moments that I wanted to hug them tight.If You Find Me made my heart ache and my eyes well.
I worried, as Carey unraveled the mystery of her past. I was tense, scared, and then in the end, so very hopeful for Carey: for her and her family, for her and Ryan, and for her future. I dearly hope to read more about Carey, but really, I just want to read more from Emily Murdoch, because she’s a great storyteller! If You Find Me will stay with me for a LONG time – the more I think on it now that I’ve read it, the stronger my emotional attachment grows. My heart-strings were sore after reading If You Find me, but it was worth every sniffle, sob, and smile.