by Emily Murdoch
Published: March 26, 2013
St. Martin's Griffin
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.
Sya: Just finished If You Find Me. Read it in one sitting and am mulling it over but my instant reaction was that while it was compelling and upsetting in parts it was curiously lacking in depth.
Donna: I'm a little under 100 pages in and I'm having a real hard time suspending my disbelief for all the social work fail going on here. Day 1: kids are found in the woods by social worker and estranged father. Night 1: kids stay in a motel with social worker and estranged father next door. Day 2: Court hearing puts kids into estranged father's custody. Night 2: Enjoy your new home, kids! Good luck! I know you'll do great. O_o Um . . .kiddos were kidnapped by Mommy Meth Head and have been living in the woods for 10 years. it's a Christmas fucking miracle they're not feral. Not a single psychological evaluation, no medical evaluations, no gradual supervised visits with estranged father since, you know, Carey's been brainwashed by Meth Mommy her dad beat her and that's why she ran and she would otherwise have absolutely no reason to trust this man (and he was given custody of a child that wasn't even his? was he already a foster parent and will be going through adoption proceedings?). I have a feeling this whole trapped in the woods thing is merely a plot device to further an otherwise superficial story about ZOMG BOYS. I base this on the utter lack of research into how social services and general common sense work.
Laura: I would have to buy this book to get it and I don't want to do that because 1)It sounded like crap to begin with and 2)It still sounds like crap. Instead, I will buy more Ruthie Knox porn and that chocolate book that you're all raving about. I think that's fair.
Chachic: Laura, what chocolate book? If you're talking about Laura Florand then yes, you should really get her books. You even share a first name, I think that's a sign right there. Haven't started reading If You Find me yet. I'm not encouraged by the comments so far.
Heidi: I just started the audio today, and I think it works really well in that format. Carey has a way of speaking (incorrectly for the most part) that works really well in audio that wouldn't come across quite the same in text, and I think the narrator (Tai Sammons, who actually also narrated Moonshifted) is quite good. I'm not disliking the story so far, but I can see the holes that Donna is talking about (I'm not very far in, not even 'home' yet).
Sya: The lack of reality re. social care etc didn't actually bother me, but the way that the girls spoke really did. While I thought Carey's slow shift in language an interesting and effective way of mirroring her move into regular society I couldn't understand why the girls spoke the way they did in the first place. Yes, they were living in the woods but they were reading bloody Dickens (or whatever), were bright, clearly had good school books and were being raised by a mother who had been a concert violinist (so I assume didn't talk THAT badly). Why the Hicksville language? Additionally, I agree with Donna that they would surely have been more feral - particularly Janessa.
Heidi: So I really was prepared to be Miss Suzy Sunshine about this book because it's gotten so much praise and I love survival stories, but I agree with so many of Donna and Sya's points about their knowledge. You supposedly know enough to be in 11th grade history, and yet you have no idea what a peace sign has to do with the 1960s (yet you know that symbol IS a peace sign)? The amount of books these girls had make it really hard to buy their ignorance in all things. If you're "going to high school like the girls in your books" I'm imagining you've heard tell of a pencil before. Given the amount of classics read, I'd expect their language to be more antiquated than backwoods.
Donna: This seems like it was a book written with a decent idea in mind but it's just so idealized that it's inconsistent as shit and the author was more intent on creating a "beautiful" story when actually piecing a decent one together.
Heidi: Finished it today, and I'm disappointed. I agree with Donna, it was a good idea, but the inconsistencies made it go too off course and kept it from gaining any depth. Like Sya said, it was horrifying and compelling in parts, but that doesn't make up for its failings. And what was with the love talk at the end? It seemed so random and out of nowhere like the author just felt she had to throw it in to make readers happy.
Sya: It's just so full of holes. I actually quite liked the idea of the horribly underdeveloped Ryan but in the end he turned into just a token boy character.
Heidi: Yes! I felt like the ending in general was underdeveloped. It made it seem as if the whole book was about the THING that Carey wasn't sure she could tell anyone, but it wasn't. I'm not sure the author realized that.
Holly: I just finished this over the weekend, and while it was a quick read (I read it in a day), I was disappointed. It felt like two different books at times - either a book about the THING that happened like Heidi said, which by the end everyone could've guessed what happened, or a book about Carey and her god-awful bullying stepsister, her problems fitting in socially and her too perfect and convenient insta-boyfriend. It could be about both, but have some resolution of the social life in the ending AND the book must be longer than 250 pages to accomplish this. A book like this and with a shorter length can't have a couple of serious issues to focus on and have both be developed in depth. Not possible.
Steph: Totally agree. The second half of the book was only building to THE THING which was as obvious as the nose on your face. I was really disappointed that "oh my god Carey, you're like SO beautiful" What a freakin' shock. And insta-boyfriend can do one aswell. To be fair, I did think Nessa was a really well written character, all the others were pretty 2 dimensional (stroppy teenager, loveable geek girl, manly yet gentle dad) Yawn
Donna: So what was THE THING? Did Carey kill her mom?
Holly: I loved Nessa too, Steph. Lol, Donna, I kind of wish she had. The thought did cross my mind. Any volunteers to explain THE THING? Someone near a computer preferably?
Chachic: I started reading this yesterday and I'm about halfway through today. I'll try to finish within the week so I can read the comments in this thread.
Heidi: I shall explain THE THING (which yes, by the time you get there was quite obvious but you know, SPOILERS and all so look away if you want your innocence preserved):
Carey's mom had been gone for 5 weeks about a year prior to their being found when a meth-addled man stumbled upon their charming abode demanding money their mom owed him for drugs. When they said they didn't have the money, he decided to rape them*, starting with Carey (who conveniently blacked out). When she wakes up and realizes he's about to rape Nessa as well, she goes and gets the shotgun and shoots the man in the arm. He tells them he'll be back to rape them again repeatedly and stomps off for a nice trek through the woods, and Carey follows him and shoots him dead, leaving his body for the woodland creatures to enjoy. Oh, and dude is Nessa's dad for that extra twist.
*Note: the word RAPE was never once used, which bothered me. I feel like if you want to get through to a girl that this horrible thing that happened to her wasn't her fault, call it what it is.
Nicole: what did i just read
Donna: I think Nicole is wounded. I'm just kind of gagging on the dumb.
Sya : I found the rape scene extremely upsetting, as it should be. But the thing about the guy being Nessa's dad just seemed gimmick-y.
Chachic: Just finished reading this one and I agree with everything that has been said so far. The premise had so much promise but it just didn't live up to my expectations. I didn't have a problem with the social care mostly because I have no idea how things like that should work in the States. I did find it a little odd that there wasn't a psychologist involved in the process - I would have thought that there would be a need for that after everything Carey and Nessa has been through. I also found it unrealistic that both girls would have been able to homeschool themselves well enough to test two grades higher that they should be. I mean I can get that they're smart but that kind of detail is a stretch. And yes, she made such a big deal of THE THING and I was able to predict what it was way before she revealed it.
I get that the book deals with a issues that will resonate with a lot of readers, which is probably why it's gotten glowing reviews from other bloggers. It's just that the whole thing didn't work for me.
Laura: I love how y'all have very politely and respectfully torn this book a new one.
Sya: We've been using our WORDS. Impressive, I admit.
Heidi: Oh! Another thing that bugged Holly and I were the random ass time jumps and quotes (especially that ridiculous chapter with Ryan). I thought it was probably so confusing because I was listening on audio and there was no sort of verbal queue to indicate that we'd moved to something different, but Holly said it was confusing in text as well.
Sya: I read an e-galley and actually thought that the formatting in that Ryan chapter had gone awry. The inserted passages from The Lady of Shalott were so irrelevant that the whole thing became nonsensical. That chapter, of the entire thing, was the weakest in terms of writing and structure.
Chachic: Oh yes, I found the quotes and flashbacks confusing. You'll be in the middle of the scene and suddenly, you'll get thrown into the past only to jump back again to the present.
Sya: You know what the worst thing about this book is? There is no part adequate for Richard Armitage.
Laura: Then you must pronounce it a fail, Sya. Fail the book. Fail the writing. Fail the writer. FOR LIFE. Since I didn't read the book, I have no authority here but YOU as Co-YAcker of the year have that authority. NO WAIT. YOU have a RESPONSIBILITY. An oversight like that simply must not be tolerated. I say you issue an official proclamation.
Sya: OK. On behalf of my Co-Regent and myself, and for the good of the YAckdom, I pronounce this book to be a fail. Not, as one might expect, for the myriad of tiny faults found in it's admittedly sometimes compelling pages BUT for the far greater fault that there is no role for Richard Armitage, Knight of this realm. Book, i ask only one question: WHAT IS THE POINT OF YOU?
Who Would Richard Armitage Play