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If You Find Me

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There are some things you can’t leave behind…

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.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published March 26, 2013

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About the author

Emily Murdoch

1 book785 followers
Emily is a writer, a poet, and a lover of books. There's never a time she's without a book. Her novel, IF YOU FIND ME, released globally to high praise and critical acclaim through St. Martin's Griffin and Orion/Indigo UK.

IF YOU FIND ME, a Carnegie Medal 2014 longlister and a Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2014 finalist, is also a YALSA BFYA selection of 2014, has earned starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, and School Library Journal, was named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice for June 2013, an Irish Times Editors’ Pick for 2013, an Editor’s Pick for UK’s The Bookseller 2013, a Booklist Youth Editors' Choice for 2013, and a Booklist Top Ten Pick of 2014.

IF YOU FIND ME has also been nominated and included in numerous state awards/high school master reading lists, amongst those in:


IF YOU FIND ME was also a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards Best Books of 2013 in the Best Debut Author and Best Young Adult Fiction categories, and was a finalist for the German Children's Literature Prize 2015, and a finalist for the German Buxeholder Bulle Award 2015.

IF YOU FIND ME has been translated and published in Canada, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, Vietnam, and Braille.

When she's not reading or writing, you'll find Emily caring for her horses, dogs and family on a ranch in rural Arizona, where the desert's tranquil beauty and rich wildlife often enter into her poetry and writing.

Emily's other passion is saving equines from slaughter. She uses her writing to raise awareness of this inhumane practice, with the goal of ending the slaughter of America's horses and burros through transport to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.

She provides sanctuary to abused and slaughter-saved equines who dazzle her daily with their gentle gratitude in exchange for security, consistency, food and love.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Emily hopes her penchant for writing will do just that.

All-in-all, she's a lefty in a right-handed world, writing her way through life and smearing ink wherever she writes.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,291 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,543 reviews33.9k followers
August 10, 2016
4.5 stars If You Find Me is a stunning debut that explores the consequences of child neglect.

The heart of this book is beautiful. There is poetic soul beneath the rough edges of backwoods dialect and unpolished story, and the honesty in the book's emotional journey shines through even when Carey is angry or scared. And while the ending may have felt a little too neat in some ways, there is redemptive and truthful quality to this girl's story that I respond to strongly. After all those years of living in awful circumstances, Carey's physical well-being is finally assured--but the truth is, none of us are whole until our hearts are mended.

The full text of this review appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

Read the incredibly touching story behind If You Find Me through the author's guest post for our blog. It made me cry.
Profile Image for Emily.
Author 1 book785 followers
October 24, 2022
As many continue to ask, yes, there is an epilogue. You can find it in the paperback and Kindle editions of the novel.

As always, thank you for your kind words, thoughtful reviews, and touching, heartfelt letters. It's a privilege to know Carey's journey has touched so many hearts and set so many on courageous journeys of their own.

Where there's life, there's hope, and where there's hope, much is possible.

I wish all of you peace and an abundance of hope. ♥️
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,946 reviews292k followers
April 26, 2013

Believe the hype.

If You Find Me is one of those rare books that so expertly, sadly, wonderfully, horrifically captures the protagonist's pain. But not just pain. Their resilience, determination, fear and hope too. Fans of heartbreakingly powerful stories by authors such as Sara Zarr and Courtney Summers will surely fall in love with this story. A story which dragged my heart mercilessly along the ground without once feeling melodramatic or cliche or overdone. Emily Murdoch's debut is truly fantastic and I hope this is the start of a long and beautiful love affair between myself and her novels.

The story opens out in the woods where fifteen year old Carey and her younger sister, Nessa, live in a run-down old camper van. This time, their mother has been away longer than ever and Carey has to struggle to make sure they both don't starve. But one day, two strangers arrive with a letter from their mother, confessing that she can no longer take care of her two daughters. The girls are taken away from the woods to live with their father and his new family but, of course, things aren't as simple as happily ever after. Carey has to adjust to a life where there are no trees to hide secrets behind... and the more time that goes by, the more her dark past threatens to come back to haunt her.

One thing I absolutely adore in young adult books is a strong bond between siblings. I loved it in Angelfall and I loved it in The 5th Wave - it's just one of those things that seems to always plant me firmly on the protagonist's side. Perhaps it's because I'm the oldest of three children and feel very protective toward my younger brother and sister - I don't know - but I find myself immediately liking protagonist's that put their younger sibling first and dedicate themselves to making sure they're kept alive/happy. And I think the relationship between Carey and Nessa is told so well. These girls have spent so much time alone with only each other for company and, even when they are removed from the woods and go to live with others, they seem to exist a little separately from the rest at first. Eventually, they start to adjust to their new lives and the change felt gradual and realistic.

There's only a couple of reasons why this didn't get the full five stars and I think they were big enough reasons for me to justify the lowered rating. Basically, I often thought that Carey's "voice" was somewhat more adult and mature than it should have been for a fifteen year old. Now, I'm happy to make some allowance for the unusual circumstances that Carey has grown up in and the parental role she has been forced to take on. However, while this may be a good enough reason for her altered outlook on life, I still feel that it isn't enough to explain some of the language used. The other reason for the lowered rating was the handling of the situation with Delaney (their father's stepdaughter) which I think was resolved too quickly to be satisfactory. I sympathised with both girls' situations but thought that it could have been explored better and developed more subtly than it was.

Overall, though, this was an excellent debut. The story was compelling, albeit dark, and the characters were well-rounded and interesting. I'm very excited to see where Murdoch goes next.
Profile Image for Lisa.
110 reviews372 followers
May 8, 2013
Actual rating: 2.5

If You Find Me is a novel with a lot of heart but, unfortunately, isn't very realistic in terms of plot, character development, or in its portrayal of the child welfare system.

If You Find Me tells the story of fourteen-year-old, Carey Blackburn, who lives in the wilderness with her younger sister, Jenessa, and her increasingly absent bipolar, meth addicted mother, who abducted Carey when she was four years old. Carey is the primary caregiver for her sister and is responsible for insuring their survival until one day their mother disappears for good and they are taken to live with Carey's father, a man Carey has always believed is abusive.

Before I go into why this novel didn't work for me I want to mention what did work. First and foremost the writing is simply beautiful. The descriptions are emotive and lyrical, and I enjoyed the quotes from Winnie the Pooh. I love Carey's voice, which comes across as authentic despite the fact that it's a bit too mature for a fourteen your old, even one who has bared as much responsibility as Carey has. Carey's desire to go back to what is familiar to her, despite the hardships she endured, was realistic as was her ambivalence towards her mother. I also thought Carey's relationship with her sister was touching. Murdoch does a good job of showing Carey's love for Jenessa through her devotion and protectiveness.

Unfortunately, I found the rest of the novel to be very problematic starting with the portrayal of the public child welfare system. It is completely unrealistic. Social workers are case managers not direct service providers. They rely on the recommendations from service providers (teachers, therapists, doctors, speech therapists etc.) in making their recommendations to the court and in deciding what is in the best interests of the child, and yet I saw the social worker in this book doing a lot of work that would have been done by the service providers. In addition to misunderstanding the role of the social worker, there are major procedural issues as well. All of them could have been avoided if the topic had been thoroughly researched. The Department of Children's Services in Tennessee has posted ample information about their policies and procedures here and here. Some of the inaccuracies I noted:

• Social workers do not bring non-offending parents with them to retrieve children from offending parents. This is a major liability issue. In all likelihood the social worker would have brought the police because the situation was potentially dangerous, and if not the police then at least another social worker.

• Social workers do not stay in motel rooms with the children they remove. This would be a huge liability for the department, not to mention expensive. The children either would have been immediately placed with Carey's father (assuming he and his family had had the proper background checks, and his home had been inspected thoroughly for child safety issues) or placed in foster care. Carey could be released to her father's custody fairly quickly, but since Jenessa is not related to him by blood he would have to be a licensed foster care provider for her to be placed with him, which doesn't happen in the span of 24 hours.

• A social worker also would not give the children her home phone number. This is a boundary issue, and while it may happen with long-term clients, it wouldn't happen with children who don't have a well-established relationship with the social worker.

• Upon taking Carey and Jenessa into custody, the social worker would have done a lengthy interview. The girls would have been asked details about how they had been living, about their mother's behavior, whether or not their mother had ever physically abused them, whether they had been sexually abused, etc. These interviews are very thorough because the information has to be reported to the court.

• The social worker would likely have looked for marks on the children and discovered the scars on Jenessa's back prior to them being place with Carey's father.

• The girls would have had a medical evaluation soon after being taken into care. If the scars hadn't been discovered by the social worker they would have been discovered by the doctor and there would have been interviews about them.

• The children would have had an attorney to represent them in court. in Tennessee they are known as a Guardian ad Litem. This attorney would have seen the children and spoken to them as required by law.

• Carey and Jenessa would have been court ordered to do individual therapy. Even if the social worker were completely incompetent and did not recommend this, their attorney most definitely would, and the judge would certainly order it.

• Social workers do not administer educational tests nor do they evaluate them or make recommendations based on them. Educational testing would be handled by the Department of Education.

• The children would not intentionally be kept out of school for a month. There are laws that require children to be in school, and most states have laws that require social workers to enroll the children in school within a certain timeframe, which is much shorter than a month (in California it's five days). This doesn't always happen because of incompetence but it's never the plan.

• The social worker would in no way be qualified to diagnose Jenessa as having selective mutism nor would she be qualified to recommend the frequency of visits with the speech therapist. Jenessa would be referred to speech therapy and the speech therapist would then make a recommendation as to how often she would need to be seen. This referral would have been made immediately not weeks after Jenessa was in care.

• In Tennessee there is a meeting within 30 days of the child's removal which includes the social workers, attorneys, parents, caregivers, children, and other interested parties specific to each case, to discuss the children's needs and services as well as the longterm plan. This meeting never occurred in the book.

• The social worker who initially removed Carey and Jenessa, Mrs. Haskell, would not be their social worker after the initial investigation was completed. They would have been assigned an on-going social worker who would do their monthly visits and review reports.

In addition to the inaccuracies relating to the child welfare system, I also found other aspects to be unbelievable. It would be almost impossible for two girls with an absentee, mentally ill, substance abusing mother, raised in the wilderness without monetary resources to be two grade levels ahead of where they're supposed to be. It's explained that the mother purchased school text books at yard sales, which would be nearly impossible since most children don't own their textbooks (they're borrowed from the school and returned at the end of the year, especially in the early grades). Children also typically require a responsible and invested adult to help them learn and Carey and Jenessa's mother was presented as anything but. Additionally, I thought it was unbelievable, given the level of Carey's mother's addiction, that she would not have sold her daughter's violin to buy drugs, and maybe food.

The children's adjustment to living with Carey's father also doesn't ring true. Jenessa in particular adjusts much too quickly. It just isn't realistic given the kind of abuse she endured. There is also a real lack of exploration of Carey's feelings about living with her father. She believed so strongly that he had abused her that she did not go for help in the face of her mother's abuse and neglect yet she is willing to question the abuse shortly after being found by the social worker, and doesn't experience much fear. It also seems unrealistic that she would allow Jenessa out of her sight with a potentially abusive man around considering how protective she is of her.

Lastly, I was disappointed that there were so many YA tropes in this novel. Carey is a violin prodigy, a genius, and breathtakingly beautiful, all the makings of a special snowflake. Like all beautiful YA heroines, she doesn't know she's beautiful, although at least in this case there is a good reason. What isn't realistic was how everyone kept gushing about her beauty. There is also a popular boy who falls for Carey on her first day of school, one whom her nemesis and step-sister, Delany, has a crush on, but he isn't interested. Although his initial interest in Carey is explained later on, the development of their relationship and his deeper feelings towards her happen much too quickly. Delany also fits the trope of the bitchy blonde cheerleader who tortures the heroine because she's jealous. While there is a valid reason for her jealousy, I thought her behavior was over-the-top, and kept Delany from being a well-rounded and compelling character.

While I can understand why others loved this book, I could not get past the unbelievable plot points, inaccurate portrayal of the child welfare system, and the inclusion of so many YA tropes. I believe a book that tackles such serious issues needs to be realistic and this one definitely isn't.
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,881 followers
May 17, 2013
4.5 stars
I knew it! I knew I should follow my instincts and stay far, far away from this book, but as usual, I let you people convince me with your wonderful reviews and look where it got me! I am heartbroken and depressed. And I ate more ice cream than one person should in a lifetime. I hope you’re happy with yourselves.

If you find me, take me home, I’d written.

The story that poured out of Emily Murdoch and onto these pages is extraordinary in many ways, but above all, in that it defies analysis and predictions of any kind. It both is and isn’t what you’d expect, and comparing it to other books, other stories, seems unfair and unnecessary. This white star stands on its own.

However, some minor comparisons can’t be helped. I’ve read many stories about abused children in the past, but very few of them had voices as strong as Carey’s. Murdoch showed that not all traumatized kids act out. Some of them go to the other extreme – they behave respectfully, responsibly, always polite, always tiptoeing around those who make them feel safe, hoping to be allowed to stay where life doesn’t seem so bad.

The poor grammar served to strengthen the authenticity of Carey’s voice, but she didn’t need it, not really. She was as clear as bell from the very first sentence, her heart and her thoughts clearly on display for all of us to see. Instead of making her seem detached, her matter-of-fact narration only emphasized her hurt tenfold. She had every right to be angry, to rage and scream at the injustice, and I kept expecting her to do so, at least once, but she never did. She is very accepting of her past and her present both, always trying to make the best of things.

That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate Murdoch’s excellent writing. I can only assume that playing with language while telling a story like Carey’s wasn’t easy, but she did elegantly. She was consistent in language, and it often reflected Carey’s state of mind, which is quite extraordinary, if you think about it. She did it subtly, making Carey’s grammar more polished when she felt secure (or wanted to protect herself by slipping into a different persona, in a way), and more deteriorated when she was, physically or mentally, closer to her camper in the Hundred Acre Woods.

Everything about Carey’s family seemed warm and inviting, so of course she had a hard time believing it to be real. She’s never had anyone taking care of her; she was the caregiver from the day her sister Nessa was born. Even allowing someone else to take care of Jenessa is hard, but Carey always does what’s best for her sister, and having a family and a warm home is exactly that.

Even if somehow If You Find Me doesn’t get all the literary awards it deserves, I’ll always picture this cover covered in medals. But I’m hoping for the William C. Morris award at the very least, and I’ve been right about these things before, you know. So even though I complained about my persuasive fellow bloggers at the beginning of this review, I am really very grateful. Some books you read for entertainment, and some because they make you a better person. If You Find Me is of the latter variety.

Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,334 followers
April 22, 2018
Okay, where should I start?

I really liked it. It was something different (or maybe something I never read before). But there were some things that did feel a bit ... off. I am not an American, and I don't know the social or children service system. But in many cases, I knew that it was WAY too easy.
That and much more. I was about to search some details but then I found this review where I got my answers. And it turns out that indeed many of the things or procedures featured in the book were highly unrealistic.

I could list all the things I liked, but instead, I'll just say that this story deserved more pages. I wish we could see more. Her and Ryan's story. Carey finding a way back to her father. Living in the mundane world... There was so much we didn't see.

This review may seem like I didn't like this story. I did, and I think that many of you will too. It's just that I wished something...more?... for it.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,563 reviews5,864 followers
March 14, 2015
"A book is a living, breathing thing. It spends the first chapters of it's life curled up in the mind, symbiotic with its creator as it grows fat and round." Emily Murdoch

I'm so very glad that this book grew into being. I picked up this small book when I saw it on my friend Jenny's favorite's list. I didn't really imagine what a punch these 245 pages could begin to deliver.
Carey is fourteen and taking care of her sister Jenessa in a camper. Not just any camper-these girls have no running water, no heat other than campfires. Their mother stashes them in the woods and brings them some food when she remembers it or brings another form of abuse when she needs money for her meth fix. She took Carey when she was young because her husband had been awarded sole custody. Hid her in the woods and birthed Jenessa as a "trick baby".
This book is about horrible unimaginable abuse-BUT and a very big but it is-this book is about Carey's strength. I loved this character. She is amazing beyond my piddly little words can even begin to describe.
This book makes me cry but this book also made me smile from my whole heart. Carey's story should be read.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,363 followers
March 16, 2013
A deep and emotional journey into the lives of two very special girls, If You Find Me is a wonderfully inspiring story that brings us past the unimaginable horror it inhibits and makes it about hope instead, about second chances.

We meet Carey and Jenessa who are living--or surviving--in their mama's old camper in the woods. This immediately captured both my heart and rapt interest, seeing two very young girls having to fend for themselves in such cruel ways. I could see from the start how much Carey had matured way beyond her years, caring for her sister more than any mother for her child. This brought me so very close to her. She quickly wedged herself right into my sympathizing heart. Easily, I could feel the deep bond these two girls shared. A sisterly bond that is so powerfully vivid I could feel the love through these pages, almost palpable. Love -- a sparse guest in their grim home. But, it is their home, for better or worse, and it's all they know of this harsh world.

When Carey and Jenessa are introduced to society, I felt as elated at the prospect of their discoveries, as I felt the longing for their woods, their home. Baffling, yes, but no matter how terrible, it was the only life they knew; being just the two of them for such a long time. It's an unfathomable situation that Murdoch brings into play in this novel. We learn bit by bit just how terrible the girls had it in the woods, some of it is truly horrifying, leading up to the event that caused her sister to stop talking altogether. The book as a whole, though, is not about the horror, but instead it's filled with an incredible amount of inspiration and joy. Joy for their new-found happiness. Joy for their potential. Joy for finally getting what they both deserve; a home, a family, love, not to mention food and clean clothes. What's most inspiring isn't the story itself, but the characters inhabiting it. Carey is old enough to realize the true horror of their time in the woods, yet she remains strong and brave for her sister. This doesn't mean she's not damaged and dealing with the psychological consequences of such a childhood, but how she goes about it is admirable. She faces it head on, faking it until she makes it! Anything for Jenessa. While there exists an aura of mystery, this novel is not filled with action or suspense; it's a gorgeously written story about these two girls who are learning to move on from a cruel, remorseless past into a life that is deliciously normal. Crushes, school, friends, parties; a world stolen from them, slowly being patched up and returned.

Yes there are crushes, there are parties, friends, school, burgers and fries, heck even toilets! Little things in life we often take for granted. And in this book, it all has heart. From the obvious emotional distresses, to the light moments and little things, to each perfectly flawed character--even the step-sister who's acting like spoiled bitch--every single part of this book is meticulously crafted with purpose, and brought to life with the most flawless of touches. Pixie, the quirky friend, for example, is an absolute light at the end of the tunnel for Carey. She radiates with such kindness; her parts in the book are aglow! Then we have a particularly sweet boy with whom Carey becomes fond of, soon discovering things about him that make him a much bigger part of the story. Still, the romance is kept light, almost non existent, but however small, it's not without substance and purpose.

Tragic and heartbreaking, If You Find Me is a magnificently told story about a young girl and her sister against the world, finding life and love where they never knew they had any. This is one I could see winning awards, even becoming a classic, for its beautiful prose and stunning storytelling. I will be recommending this gem for years to come!

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Lotte.
536 reviews1,106 followers
March 15, 2017
* 3.5/5 stars! A beautiful story about survival, family and the strong bond between siblings. My favourite part about this book was definitely the relationship between the two sisters which was incredibly heart-warming and heartbreaking at the same time. However, I did have some problems with this book and specifically the portrayal of some of the characters, especially Delaney.
Profile Image for GirlWithThePinkSkiMask IS ON VACATION.
351 reviews1,049 followers
April 2, 2022
Writing: unique | Plot: zzzz | Ending: finally there


Carey has spent most of her life with her "mute" sister, Ness, hidden away from the world in a camper van. But when social services turns up with her bio dad, Carey and Ness are brought "home" to navigate "the real world" together.


Omfg.............. this was excruciatingly boring. I was power reading like a mf to just get it over with. I'm giving it two stars because the author did a great job of showing not telling and giving Carey a distinct voice.

The rest of this book crawled at a snail's pace. The author literally recounted everyday from her return to norm for 3 straight months. "The middle" section (literally titled that) focused on HS drama, crushes, parties, etc with some depressing af flashbacks to rape peppered throughout.

The end twist was not surprising, just sad af. But unlike other literary novels I've read that are equally as sad, I felt like this book was shallow. It was like Safe House where the girl busts out into the world and immediately is throwing ass at Coachella; on her first day at school Carey gets cozy with a popular older boy. (although tbh that one scene at the party was tragique). Like hold up here... Then you had Delaney (aka Delly) your typical bratty highschooler. I just couldn't connect to the characters or the story whatsoever even though I did feel sympathetic for Carey and Ness.

I can see people really enjoying this. The writing was not atrocious at all, but even great writing couldn't save this from being a painfully boring read for me. I would say a younger audience might relate to some of the plot lines better, but tbh most of the subject matter is def not appropriate for them so idk.


Pros: unique prose, great show don't tell writing

Cons: sooooooo boring, typical teenage drama that I couldn't connect with, not a thriller but not a banger literary novel either...
April 19, 2013
This is a pretty heartbreaking story, and I found it a difficult read. There's no other way for me to say this without sounding like a horrible parson lacking empathy, but it was frustrating for me to read this book from Carey's point of view, because her world view is so warped from all the abuse she has suffered, and all the brainwashing her mother has put her through.

After nearly a decade of being kidnapped by her mentally unstable and drug-addicted mother, Carey and her half sister Jenessa were found and returned to their biological father. Despite all that her mother has put her through, and trust me, they and Carey in particular, suffered horribly at the hand of the woman who gave birth to them.

Carey has had to grow up before her time. She's had to find a way to keep herself and her sister hidden from the outside world, find creative ways to keep them fed while their mother was out doing drugs or selling herself. Despite all this, Carey maintains the steadfast belief that their mother is to be believed: that she keeps them safe, that she is to be trusted, that she is to be believed. Their mother let them believe that their father is a horrible, abusive person, which turns out not to be the case. Still, Carey persists in that belief and that distrust of her father after they were rescued, and after their father demonstrates that he is not the monster she believed him to be.

The other characters in this book were believable; I loved their stepmother. What a loving, warm-hearted person. The stepsister, on the other hand, would give Cinderella's a good run for their money for the majority of the book. I also had some problems with the clarification in the writing. I didn't really know what year the setting was. I had actually thought it was set in the 80s, but the author didn't really give us a clear sense of time, and that added to the fuzziness in the book.

There were parts of this book that made it rather unbelievable, or too coincidental, for example, Ryan's story arc. I also found it tremendously annoying that the author constantly brought up how beautiful Carey is. It seems like everyone she meets remark upon how lovely, how attractive, how beautiful Carey looks. She could be a supermodel...etc. It gets old, and it adds nothing to the story. This is a tale of survival, and Carey's looks should not play into it that much.

It was a frustrating read, but well-written. The abuse within might be triggering for some.
Profile Image for Sue (Hollywood News Source).
781 reviews1,600 followers
October 5, 2015

You can listen to If You Find Me playlist in 8tracks. Review also posted at Young Adult Hollywood.

I read If You Find Me in one sitting down beside my sister. I was fighting back the tears throughout the whole ordeal, but once in a while I would catch myself casually wiping the mist in my eyes. I instantly connected with this book's prose and characters. Truth be told, I ached for this book over and over again.

If You Find Me follows the story of two sisters who lived in the deepest part of the woods for almost ten years with their mother. Sometimes their mother would be away for a month or two scavenging for money and supply of food. Until one day their mother disappeared and all of a sudden, they are being transferred to their father’s care.

This book has so much heart and intricate layers of depth. It touched me in a deep manner. I had to catch my breath a handful of times. It is poignant, authentic and consuming. It also has a distinct sense of nostalgia. Murdoch’s poetic writing will simply draw you in.

If You Find Me focuses on two sister’ fierce love for each other, who are making a life and family for themselves in the real world. It explores abuse, and the aftermath of going through that seclusion. A very highly recommendable read.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
September 6, 2017
This was good for 100 pages. Truly, I was somewhat enjoying If You Find Me. Okay, the pacing wasn't great, but it was just starting to get good as section one ended, and I was desperate to start section two.

And then it immediately fell off into the abyss of girl hate surrounding a boy and instalovey romance being what makes a rape victim feel better about herself.

I am not kidding when I say I went from enjoying this to hating it in around thirty seconds. Section two starts off with Carey being hated for her beauty. Delaney, her stepsister, is there to be a bitch who throws herself at boys. The new boy shows up and is absolutely perfect and respectful and the only one who doesn't like Delaney. And then there's that stupid, cringey, instalove-filled romance.


I'm so sick of this "boy helps a girl recover after a rape" narrative. Girls do not need boyfriends to recover from trauma. This is just a gross narrative! You can't tie new self-esteem to whether you get a boyfriend. What about girls who don't magically get boyfriends? What about girls who don't want boyfriends? Do they get books, or is it only stereotypically pretty straight women who are interested in dating? It would be one thing if this were some books, but I literally see this trope constantly. It's like we can't have a girl character be a rape victim unless she has a boyfriend. Yes, it's nice to see rape victims can still date and have lives, but it's not nice to see that rape victims aren't important without boyfriends. The prevalence of this trope is honestly pretty fucked up.

I also just wasn't very thrilled by this book. The pacing isn't even remotely on the side of okay. I hated every boring minute of section two. Just as it would get good, I would find myself bored again.


Section three did somewhat redeem this book for me. While the twist was nothing particularly shocking, it still made me flinch. I liked seeing Carey pick herself back up. I also liked that Delaney was redeemed. Unfortunately, this friendship was executed so messily that I don't know whether to give the book credit for ending the book-long girl hate. I mean, I guess that's an improvement.

I did like Carey's relationships with her family. It's so rare to see non-terrible stepmothers in YA lit. Really, it's ridiculous how rare this is. Points for that. And obviously, points for the strong sibling relationship, which I truly loved so much. Nessa and Carey are so compelling together.

VERDICT: I had a lot of issues with the romance and girl hate in this, so despite a good family theme, I really wouldn't recommend this book.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,311 reviews658 followers
July 20, 2020
Stories about children of mentally ill parents and/or drug abusing parents are ones that tug at the readers emotions and can be over-done, over dramatic. Author Emily Murdoch doesn’t fall into that maudlin trap.

In “If You Find Me” her narrator, Carey, is a resilient fourteen-year-old girl who assumes full responsibility for her young sister, age 6, and herself. Carey’s mom is a “meth-head” and often leaves Carey and her sister alone in the woods of Tennessee. Carey is adept at her rifle (she needs to get food) and can navigate by the stars at night. As the story opens, her father and a social worker find them and want to take them into civilization. Carey’s mom has told them that her father beat them, and she ran away with the children to save them.

As the story progresses, Carey learns many things, mainly that her mother was a liar. The reader knows she’s a liar, as all drug addicts are. But it’s a difficult lesson for a teen.

What the jest of the story is more of Carey and her sister entering civilization after living in the woods for over ten years. As one can imagine, it’s easier for Carey’s sister. Cary though, entering into high school has her own personal issues.

Add to that, Carey’s sister has selective mutism. The mystery of the mutism hangs throughout the story. Bits are revealed of the sister’s life in the woods and it’s so sad.

I was fully enthralled in the story, wondering how these girls survived. There is a bit of suspense, but it’s mostly a story of love and loyalty. I listened to the audio production, narrated by Tai Sammons.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,825 reviews836 followers
April 16, 2013
If You Find Me was a story that took me through a whole range of emotions, and tore out my heart at times, but for the most part, it was a story filled with hope.

Fifteen year-old Carey has been raised in woods with her little sister Jenessa by their mother, both isolated from the outside since for most of her life. Thanks to her mother, Carey has always been under the impression they ran to escape her dangerous father. Her life in the woods has been no picnic (total understatement), but she always thought it was the lesser of two evils. Ten years later, her father shows up with social services at their camp, and everything Carey thought she knew is turned upside down.

This story was an awe inspiring story of survival and hope. I immediately connected with Carey, she went through so much but wasn’t bitter, nor did she use her past to act up or make stupid decisions. She was a selfless girl who put the welfare of her sister above her own. What Carey and her sister, Jenessa went through is related through flashbacks after they are found, and this helped in reading this, because you know they are safe now. My heart filled with gladness every time these girls were shown kindness because it touched and healed them so. I cried a few times with happy tears. Carey’s father and his wife, Melissa, were the very thing these two needed. Even the connection Shorty the dog, and Jenessa had filled me with joy, two little broken souls drawn to each other.

As a mother, parts of this were tough for me to read. The mother was an absolute HORROR!! Probably the worst I have ever read about. There is nothing that could excuse her behavior and treatment, IMO. I cannot fathom how someone could treat their children like this, and I kept dreaming up vile ways I could punish her (yes, I know, the mother is a fictional character!).

I read this a few months back and yet the details and emotions stuck with me, leaving a lasting impression. I was captivated by Carey and Jenessa’s unfolding story of survival, healing and love.

A copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

You can find this review and more at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews289 followers
February 24, 2013
I received this book from the Goodreads First Reads Program in exchange for an honest review.

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch is a haunting read that will stay with you long after it's done. The novel stars Carey, a teenaged girl who has been living in an abandoned camper in the woods for years with her younger sister, Jenessa, who she has taken care of, while her druggie mother has been in and out of town and eventually, missing, for the past two months. The two girls get discovered by social services and Carey's father, whom she hasn't seen for a decade, and what happens next is a revelation, both for her and her new adoptive family.

I don't want to give away too much about the plot, because it is so wonderful to discover all of the intricacies as you read yourself. The characters are deftly drawn, beautifully written, and poignant. Carey, the protagonist, carries the piece, which is vitally important to the success of this novel. She is very likeable and sympathetic as a character. Her younger sister, Jenessa, is the perfect combination of sweet and loveable, and mystery, since we know there is a reason why she hasn't talked for years. The supportive cast of characters is also wonderful, including Carey's father, Melissa, their new stepmother, Delly, the jealous new stepsister, and Pixie, an odd, whimsical new friend for Carey. The prose is gorgeous, and the description spot on. The plot races along at a perfect pace, and I was gripped from start to finish. As you can tell, I was greatly impressed by this novel.

If I had anything less than positive to say about this novel, it has to do with the boy in this piece-- his part seems a little too easy, too perfect. But that's about all I can say about it-- it obviously didn't change my opinion about the book.

Overall, a compelling, heartbreaking, and beautifully written first novel-- Murdoch is an extremely talented writer, and I will be watching for her future work.
319 reviews1,892 followers
February 19, 2013
There's no mistaking the fact that If You Find Me is a thoroughly compelling, affecting, and poignant read, and the fact that it is a debut novel makes those attributes all the more impressive. At first, I wasn't entirely sure whether or not If You Find Me would be something I'd end up liking, putting into consideration I'm not the type of reading who goes actively out of their way for deep and poignant novels concerning child abuse and topics similar to child abuse, but I am unquestionably satisfied that I ended up deciding to give If You Find Me a chance, even if it broke my heart a countless amount of times.

The strongest aspect in If You Find Me, in my opinion, is the relationship between the two sisters, Carey and Jenessa. I've been looking for a strong sisterly bond in young adult for quite a while, now, and with all of my searching I've only been disappointed. That is, of course, until I read If You Find Me. The relationship that is Carey and Jenessa's is the epitome of a strong and unbreakable sisterly bond, and experiencing this relationship develop more and more with each passing page was both moving and entirely breathtaking.

The writing, too, is absolutely gorgeous, and almost lyrical, in a sense. Upon reading the first few pages, I wasn't entirely sure if the prose would click with me, being written in dialect (albeit not heavily), but those uncertainties were soon put to rest as I began to barely even notice the novel was written in dialect, and everything began to fuse wonderfully. The prose complemented each and every one of the characters, and the broken way in which Carey and Jenessa spoke emphasized their state in a subtle yet touching manner.

However, with all positives, there must be some negatives, and If You Find Me, unfortunately, is no exception. Even at its incredibly short length (only 256 pages!), I felt that quite a few moments since the girls were taken from their "home" in the beginning were too long drawn out and, to be blunt, tedious. Upon passing the halfway mark, I began to gradually lose interest in a few portions of the story, but not so much so that it would hinder my reading experience drastically, but just enough for my rating to be lowered from five stars to four. As well as the issue of not being connected to the story in a few particular scenes, the flashbacks, while entirely necessary, were awkwardly placed in between scenes with no warning that a flashback was coming. While this issue, in scope, may not be too huge, it did provide me with moments of confusion, until I came to the realization that a flashback had occurred in the middle of a scene.

With those two issues aside, however, it is extremely evident that Emily Murdoch has an immeasurable amount of talent as a writer. While those two flaws mentioned above kept this from being a five star read for me, I can say with absolute certainty that this will be a five star read for many, many people. A debut that is powerful, heartbreaking, and ultimately stunning, If You Find Me is not a novel to be missed by readers who enjoy feeling like they've been punched in the gut repeatedly throughout a novel, or really anyone looking for a a wonderful and incredibly long-lasting novel that will make them feel and think constantly.
May 8, 2013
I wasn't as enthralled with this book as everyone seems to be. I gave it a reluctant 3 stars because it was very readable, and Murdoch graced her protagonist, Carey, with a unique voice. But that's not to say this book was without problems.

Carey and her little sister, Nessa, live in the woods with their meth-addicted, bipolar mother. Nessa has never known civilization; she is the product of a "random fuck" with yet another dealer willing to take sex as payment. Carey was kidnapped by her mother when she was 5 and has raised Nessa on her own. She was told by her mother that they had to escape their abusive husband/father.

The book begins when Carey and Nessa are found by Carey's biological father and a social worker. They have to learn to live in a society that's unlike the camper and canned beans and creek they're used to. The story is told from Carey's perspective in the first person with flashbacks to the girls' woods upbringing.

Various horrors, including physical and sexual abuse, as well as rape, are described, although not graphically. The younger sister, Nessa, has "selective mutism," and this is due to a secret she and Carey are hiding, a horror they witnessed. The "secret" is not hard to guess, and when it's revealed at the end, it's not even remotely shocking.

The biggest issues I had with this book is that once the girls leave the woods, their life is so damn GOOD. Their dad is calm and loves them. His new wife (their stepmom) is warm, caring, amazing. Carey immediately bonds with the hot boy at school who is awesome and fabulous and doesn't want sex, wouldn't dream of it. The family dog and Nessa become inseperable. Their social worker is cool and understanding, and there is no apparent system bureaucracy or red tape to get through. The family sets the girls up with fully remodeled bedrooms and buys them all kinds of cute clothes, yet neither the dad nor stepmom seem to work. The only cloud on the horizon is the stepsister, who's Carey's age and is resentful of the attention Carey has always received, but even this issue is resolved and not in a very believable way (the stepsister hates her, then they have a talk, and all is well).

I felt that even the serious issues of abuse and rape were glossed over. There was an attempt to show that Carey wasn't adjusting all that easily, but that in the end love and family will get her through. Cue sappy music and tears. I wish life were like that, but we all know it's not.

Also, the girls were described as model gorgeous and totally beautiful, which also rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed like that was their passport into society; yeah, they were dealt a crap hand, but at least they're pretty! When they're tested for school, they both test two grade levels above, which is completely preposterous considering they had no formal schooling or adult instruction or feedback of any kind, only old textbooks their mom randomly brought them. Even if Carey was a precocious 5-year-old, how well was she reading when she was taken to the woods? Well enough to teach herself and her sister an entire high school curriculum? This was not realistic and in fact makes light of the very real problems children like this might face in adjusting to society.

Profile Image for Elaine.
474 reviews73 followers
November 15, 2016
4.5 Stars for this touching story of survival and love..

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Carey and Ness/Jenessa live in the woods, in a old dirty trailer, hidden from the rest of civilization.

Their absent mother often leaves them alone for weeks on end while in search of drugs and drink.
Carey knows that they are there for their own safety. Taken away from their father.
You see Careys father did bad things to her and her mother which resulted in Careys mother kidnapping her and bringing her out to hide in the woods.

After Ness is born, Carey takes on the role as mother, with little food left this time, their mother has left much longer than usual and thats worrying for Carey.

When a man and women turn up at their trailer, Carey is wary, this man claims to be her father.

He's come to take them home...

My thoughts...
What you may feel starts off very depressing and hopeless develops into a beautiful, touching story.
Told through the eyes and voice of a 15 (14) year old girl, I just loved her.
Carey is an incredible talented girl, having taught herself and her sister in what becomes their world.

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As the story unfolds so do your tears.

What is the secret Carey is carrying that has caused her young sister to stop talking.
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Their life in the woods is heartbreaking but will leaving it be worse.

There is so much I want to say but I don't want to tell the story...I want you to read it..

IF YOU FIND ME was nominated for the CYBIL Awards, along with the Goodreads Choice Awards Best Books of 2013 in the Best debut author and Best Young Adult Fiction categories.

The only reason it wasn't a full 5 Star read was..
Profile Image for Deanna .
655 reviews12.4k followers
September 29, 2019
I just finished this book about 5 minutes ago. I loved it. It was heart breaking and heart warming. I cannot wait for more from Emily Murdoch. So glad I stumbled across this book.
Profile Image for Tania.
1,185 reviews268 followers
February 10, 2019
We find the beauty, even in the lack. That's human. We make the best of what we're given.

The beautiful, heart-breaking story of Carey (15), who was hidden away by her mentally ill and drug addicted Mama in the woods, and who had to fend for herself and her younger sister, Jenessa (5). Written in a straight-forward, uncomplicated but deeply affecting style, which I thought was perfect as this is classified as YA, and because this is the way a young, self-schooled girl would express herself.

I listened to the audio, and highly recommend this to everyone. The narrator, Tai Simmons, brings Carey to life and really deepens the emotional impact of the book. I also adored her Southern accent.

I am so glad I gave this book a try as I don’t normally read a lot of YA titles. Carey’s voice will stay with me for a long time.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 6 books1,205 followers
March 14, 2013
Carey and Janessa live in the woods -- Nessa's been there her entire young life but Carey's had a taste of the outside world, way back in the day. Their mother brought them there to protect them, but mom is never around. She's always out, looking for a way to feed the girls, for a way to keep them safe.

The story begins when that all changes. Carey and Nessa are taken from their home in the woods by authorities, who introduce them to their biological father and inform them they're going to be released into his custody.

Mom was not coming back for them.

Murdoch's book follows Carey and Nessa's reintroduction to the world -- how do they adjust to living in a house again? With a family? With a new sister? Why did their mother take them away from civilization and into the woods? And maybe the most important question: what happened to those girls in the woods to make them who they are today?

The concept and storytelling were compelling; this was a plot unlike any other I'd read before. I was hooked immediately and blew through the book in no time. However, I think that was where I found a number of problems: it was too polished, too tidy, too easily resolved.

This book needed more depth and less back story info dumping, particularly in the final section where we get the entire history of Carey and Nessa. I starting finding the technique of weaving the back story into the narrative via Carey's flashbacks distracting and unbelievable in the second section of the book, especially when

I had a tough time buying Carey's voice. Even though I could see something in her position being mature, the language didn't work. There were multiple times a turn of phrase or an observation felt off. Likewise, the writing itself came off as trying too hard at times, working in one too many forest-related metaphors in situations where it was unnecessary. It dragged down the pace in places where pacing didn't need to be slowed.

Subplots in the book were wrapped up too cleanly for me or were in and of themselves too convenient and contrived. I didn't buy the tension between Carey and her new sister Delaney. I understood and sympathized with both of their situations; I could see why Delaney would feel like getting two new siblings after 15 years of being an only child would suck. However, the turnaround in their relationship was not satisfying or believable. I had trouble buying into the relationship between Ryan and Carey, too: . I wish there'd been more story about adjusting to life with not just a biological father the girls had been taken from, but also, I'd have liked more about adjusting to life with a stepmother. I will say, Melissa was one of my favorite adults in YA in a long time. She was patient, caring, and offered real bits of wisdom and hope for the girls that were such a stark contrast to everything they'd been used to.

Despite the flaws, I enjoyed this book, and it reminded me a lot of Carol Lynch Williams's Glimpse. I think this could have benefited from more, actually. There were a lot of fascinating threads and a lot of subplots to explore, but they weren't. I also felt that the ending of the book, where we finally learned the whole of what made Carey (and Nessa) who they were, left enough for real further exploration, too.

Full review here: http://www.stackedbooks.org/2013/03/i...
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,155 reviews642 followers
March 22, 2013
"If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But, the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you."

"...on beans I pray… "

Incredibly amazing!!

It always seems to be those amazing and moving books I experience that give me the most difficulty when attempting to put my reactions and emotions into words. If you were able to see the scribbled notes and scattered thoughts this book incited in me, you’d be certain of one fact… I was truly moved and emotionally floored by Emily Murdoch’s novel If You Find Me. To say that I felt this story was incredible doesn’t come close to how I truly felt. So, thank you Murdoch for restoring my faith in YA.

Before I continue, allow me to clarify that last statement… As of late, I seem to keep falling off the YA reading wagon, abandoning book after book because they fail to either catch my attention or provide a unique experience. I was coming close to blaming myself for resorting to other genres for those unique plots and captivating characters, all the while coming to grips with the possibility that I've outgrown YA. Well after reading If You Find Me, I place my lackluster reaction in YA back on the authors, because Murdoch proved once again that when done right, this genre can absolutely be amazing.

So let me share with you what this poignant and powerful book was about. In this story, we meet fifteen year old Carey who has spent the last ten years living in the back woods of Obed Wild and Scenic River National Park tucked away from society and the simple luxuries most take for granted. To her, this is her Hundred Acre Woods… a fantasy concept that has become her reality. The burden of caring for her little sister Jenessa was placed solely on her shoulders when their unstable and abusive mother abandoned them in these woods with a few canned goods (beans for the most part) and very little means to survive. Eventually they are rescued by Social Services and Carey’s father after receiving a tip from monster mom of their whereabouts. When they are finally immersed into society after being on the brink of starvation, keeping down a simple meal and learning to engage in everyday life becomes a challenge and skill they must quickly acquire.

There were so many emotions and reactions I experienced through Carey and Jenessa’s journey because of its vivid detail and realistic feel. They were truly unforgettable. Overall, their story is one of abuse, kidnapping and mistreatment, where I had no choice but to immediately embrace them and ultimately feel anxious as I witnessed their painful yet hopeful journey. Carey and Jenessa’s emotional strength and determination to acclimate to their new reality broke me into a million pieces. Their characters were just as powerful as their story.

In addition to these two girls, I have to share how much I loved Ryan’s character in If You Find Me. He blended perfectly with Carey and Jenessa’s journey, and the backstory that complimented his character was full of heart-warming surprises and perfectly plotted scenes. How he connected with Carey helped ease my angst a bit as she worked to immerse herself in high school and its inherent challenges.

Finally, I wanted to share that there are a couple of topics covered in fiction that have the ability to unground me, and one of them is when a child is mistreated or abused by the person who is by nature responsible for their safety. Parental abuse, neglect and in this case add abandonment to the mix easily throws me into a tail spin of fierce proportions. To read what these two girls had to survive was too harsh for words. So to witness Carey’s protective and nurturing ways with her younger sister incited some serious emotion in me. Loved those two girls!

At a time when more often than not I can’t seem to remember the names of the characters I’ve read a week ago, I can assure you Carey, Jenessa and Ryan will stay with me for much, much longer than the shelf-life of today’s YA characters. They were a powerful and unforgettable cast that shared a beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful story. Emily Murdoch’s debut novel If You Find Me is a must read for fans of quality YA! Well done!
Profile Image for Kels.
315 reviews165 followers
October 6, 2015
"I'm like Ness's broken-legged chipmunk, which had to be shaken and poked out of the birdcage once it healed, preferring the familiar, even if the familiar was a jail. Home is home."

I read this book with sad eyes and a hand clutched to my chest. If You Find Me me is a deeply affecting story of what happens after a girl, Carey (14), and her little sister Janessa (6), is reintroduced to society after spending a life isolated in the woods, with a drug-addicted, bipolar and just flat out despicable mother. We see their trials of learning to adjust and conform to the newness of life in a world filled with gadgets and unfamiliar comforts, and family they didn't know exist, and we also have a look into their tragic past--told through unflinching flashbacks--showcasing how unforgiving and cruel the woods, and the people they encountered in it could be.

Guys, this book broke my heart.

Carey, is bold, daring, strong, and compassionate. The relationship between her and her sister Nessa lies more along the lines between a mother and daughter, and let me tell you: it's searingly beautiful. Their love, their bond, was so heavy and complicated, and organic, and just... oh gosh, I'm tearing up. Carey is a child herself, but her first priority has always been protecting and providing for Nessa. Loving her younger sister--whom she calls her baby--when her mother "forgot" to show love to either of them. And the things she goes through for her is awe-inspiring.

"That girl in the woods is amazing. Don't you ever stop being that girl in the woods, you hear me? Braids and new clothes can't take away the best parts of you. You hold on tight to your heritage. That girl in the woods raised a baby, took care of her sister, kept her fed, warm, safe. That girl in the woods is special. You're braver than most girls your age will ever have to be. Don't let anyone tell you differently."

This perfectly sums up how I feel about Carey. She wowed me.

I also loved the way her dad and Melissa (step-mom) were depicted. They were so patient, and kind, and loving. The way they took the girls in (Nessa and Carey didn't have the same father. Her mom called her a "trick-baby"), my heart leapt at their unfailing love. Delaney (step-sister), well she was a piece of work. That's code for: I wanted to slap her.

But as amazing as I think this book was, there were flaws. There's a little of insta-love romance in this book, that simply put: I wasn't buying. I even thought it was a little bit distracting, but since it took up such a minuscule portion of the book, it's easy to overlook. And I really don't think that the any of the characters (besides Carey and Nessa) were developed enough. We know little about the mom, except she's a horrible parent. We know the dad's been searching for her (Carey because Nessa isn't his daughter, and he knew nothing about her), but we don't really know what's going on with him besides that he's stepped into the father role, as expected. And Melissa is sweet, but what are her thoughts? And what's really going through Delaney's head? How is her dad coping knowing what they been through? None of these questions are answered, and I would have liked a wider scope to really connect with all of the characters, not just Carey. All of the other characters, just felt like stand-ins: they played their part, but it was never deeper than the act, which in turn made the story feel disconnected at certain points.

But overall, this was a gorgeously written and haunting novel, that plays on deep themes of family, trauma, survival, and self-hood, and I would highly recommend this to many of my friends in search of a contemporary read that will break you into new pieces before building you up with hope.

"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."
260 reviews104 followers
February 21, 2016
Carey and Jenessa are living in a camper in the woods, surviving on beans and whatever else they can find for food. Used to their mother coming and going, often disappearing for long periods of time, they don't think anything different of this time - until she doesn't come back. Instead, two strangers find them and take them back to the world outside. If You Find Me is a story of two sisters adapting to a new life, facing the painful truth of their past and confronting their mother's behaviour, but also rediscovering what it's like to be loved and cared for.

This book was, in a word, heartbreaking. Emily Murdoch has an incredibly subtle writing style which has the power to draw quite a lot of emotion from you. Her tale crosses the emotional spectrum: it is one of sadness, loss, abandonment...hope, happiness and, ultimately, love. It broke my heart to see the kind of life Carey and Janessa were leading; to see how, until they were effectively rescued, they could rely on no-one but each other - indeed, it fell on Carey's shoulders to look after both herself and her sister. It broke my heart to see these two girls grow used to a life they should have had from the very start, and never had to give up. And even seeing the love they got from their father and his wife, Melissa, was its own kind of heartbreak. But Murdoch managed to balance the sadder elements with the more hopeful, and it was amazing to watch Carey and Jenessa realise that this was their new life and then really come to embrace it.

Looking back on it now, it strikes me that there is an awful lot of love in this book. That it addresses different types of love. Perhaps one of the most obvious is the romantic kind - and there is a romantic angle in here, although to be honest, it didn't really work for me. I felt it could have taken some more time to develop, especially in the knowledge of the full story behind that romance. But there was also friendship, a new thing for both Carey and Janessa. Even the bond that Janessa formed with Shorty, the farm dog. There was the familial love that came from the sisters living with their father and Melissa. When Melissa made her first appearance, I think I thought that she'd probably end up being the evil stepmother-type figure. But I couldn't be further from the truth, and it was incredible to just see her accept the sisters and, more than that, really love them. Which brings me, finally, to what is arguably the most powerful, most moving bond in this story: that between Carey and Janessa. I was astounded by how close they were. How Carey never once resented Jenessa for being younger and for depending on her for everything. How Jenessa sacrificed talking to protect Carey. This relationship between the sisters was truly brilliant, and brilliantly written.

If You Find Me carries its own distinct voice that rises above the clamour of so many other young adult titles. Its pages are a journey of two girls, finding their place in the world and, inevitably, your heart.

This review is also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for gio.
1,012 reviews386 followers
November 27, 2015
“If you find me, take me home.”

4.5 (maybe?)

I admit it...I got all teary eyed at some point. And well, that doesn't happen that often.

Carey and Jenessa live in a camper in the heart of the woods. It's been like this since their mom took them away, claiming that their dad was abusing them. But now Carey's mom is never there. And where she is she smells of smoke and meth and of the men she takes home with her. So Carey takes care of her sister until, one day, they find them.
And they decide to take them home, since their mom abandoned them. But in the woods Carey hid a secret and what if they find that too?

Sometimes you can find the best things in a surprising (and unexpectedly deep) book. I don't even know why I bought If you find me. It wasn't a book I desperately wanted but still, I saw it in my wishlist. And like, bought the hardcover. Finally, after weeks of "meh" books, I found the right one.

If you find me deals with heavy topics, like abuse and guilt and survival and it manages to do so splendidly. It's such a small book, not even 300 pages, but there is so much emotion hidden behind these pages. Carey had to grow up really fast; having to take for her sister in the woods made her become extremely mature for her age, but at the same time what made her perfect in the heart of the woods makes her feel like a fish out of water in the city. She has to take care of Jenessa, while trying to adjust to a completely new life, with a new family and the trouble that going to school, with people everywhere, represents for her. You can take the girl out of the woods, but can you take the woods out of the girl?

I really liked how Murdoch built this family. It wasn't easy for Carey and Jenessa to adjust to the new situation but the same goes for Delaney, who suddenly finds herself with two new sisters.

The ending was a little too abrupt for me and that's why I won't give If you find me five stars, but trust me, it's a book I'd recommend to anyone.
Profile Image for ✨Susan✨.
873 reviews174 followers
July 2, 2016
Two little girls have somehow been surviving in the woods alone for years by themselves after being kidnapped by their methadict mother. The mother has been gone for five weeks this time when a group of people, that seem to know them, come to take them to their father.
The oldest girl has some memory of modern life but for the youngest it is a huge culture shock to be brought into a normal home etc..
A great story of love, respect and forgiveness. The growth and strength of the girls is truly amazing as they try to adapt and understand their strange new world.
589 reviews1,031 followers
December 23, 2014
This was such a beautifully told tale--kept me glued at page one and I finished it in one sitting. The only qualm was that I felt the second half moved a little too quickly compared to the first half. I highly recommend this. 4.5 stars.
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