REVIEW #105: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Title: If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Pages: 256, Hardcover

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.


If You Find Me is one of those contemporaries that pushes the limits, takes you outside of your comfort zone, forces you to think about uncomfortable realities, and makes you feel a wealth of emotions. It is a story that is both beautiful and heartbreaking. It is one of the best, most moving books I have ever read.

“Saint Joseph, if you’re still listening, please look out for us? We’re not in the woods anymore, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Please keep us safe, and help me keep Nessa safe. Help me remember the e-s in ‘don’t’, not to drop my g’s, and not to say ain’t.Most of all, please look out for Mama? No matter what she did.On beans I pray.” 

My heart went out to Carey. From such a young age she was forced to endure things that no child ever should. Her mother kidnapped her. Lied to her. Barely provided the most basic of needs. Beat her. And worse of all, sold her body to pay for her meth addiction. And despite it all, Carey grew into an amazing young woman. She is strong and capable and intelligent. She took complete care of her younger sister Jenessa and kept them both alive in the most unimaginable circumstances. And even when she was thrust into a new and overwhelming life, Jenessa came first. Her protection, love, compassion and care for her younger sister was so beautiful and touching. And the way she handled each new situation was beyond inspiring. Her inner strength is unparalleled. She is my favorite heroine. 

“Please don’t let me wake up. Please, Saint Joseph, don’t let this be a dream. Let me have this. Help me to know how to have this. Don’t let us wake up cold and hungry, Jenessa’s eyes, begging me to make it better. Please. Never again. I may not deserve it, but Jenessa does.“

This story was just so profound. I was moved by her history in the woods. I was mesmerized by her relationship with her younger sister. I was captivated by her adjustments to the outside world. At times she was back to being that 5 year old before she was kidnapped and had so much to learn. At other times she showed a maturity and understanding that far transcended her years. When she faced new obstacles she tackled them with such sense and good judgement, it was truly remarkable. All of a sudden she is getting doted on and introduced to conveniences she never imagined possible. She has to attend high school for the first time and all the drama that comes with it. And her sister Delaney gave her no warm welcome. Yet Carey even managed her with a certain firm directness and mended that relationship too. 

“’What’s your problem with me anyway?’ I say, the white heat filing my body. ‘I reckon you have everything a person could ask for. You even had my father. Why do you hate us so much?’Delaney laughs, a hollow, bitter sound. ‘Are you kidding me? I never had either one of them. Not even my own mother! It was all about you. It’s always been about you! Were you alive? Were you dead? Oh, there’s another sighting. No, it’s not her. Were you hungry? Safe? Warm? Carey this. Carey that, It was always All about you.’”

And she meets a boy, and he likes her. Before Ethan, the only males Carey new were the ones her Momma brought home. Carey didn't really know how to act or what to think. But Ethan was patient with her. He was kind and understanding. He showed her what was right and erased all the misconceptions brought on by her past. I loved the innocence of their relationship and their connection that spanned years. He was perfect for her. They were perfect together.

"'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. Especially out here.'"

The writing was wonderful. Carey had to educate herself in the woods and as a result she spoke differently - 'backwoods' like. Murdoch embraced this in the dialogue, both internal and external. And the comparisons that Carey made between her old life and new really brought forth her past in the woods - the sounds and smells, the animals and landmarks, her experiences - all stayed with her and gave her an anchor in this new life. And occasionally Murdoch gave us a memory. Although most depicted the atrocities Carey had to face. They made me red with anger but really shook up my emotions.

"Jenessa turns to me, her eyes full of question marks. I shrug; even I know I'm out of my league. The keening ache washes over me again like creek water soothing a stone, and that fast, I'm pining for the crunch of leaves beneath my feet, the smoky campfire, the world I know with my eyes tight shut, and even the beans."

In all, If You Find Me was a story unlike anything I have ever read and by far one of the most powerful. Believe every good thing you hear about this book.



  1. I skimmed over your review, but 5 stars! I'm getting this one from the library soon and I can't wait to read it!

  2. I'm so so happy that you loved this one, Nicole! It's definitely one of the most moving, powerful books I have ever read, and one of my favorites ever. I agree that Carey's voice was amazing. I felt so bad for her and I wanted to hug both her and Jenessa and... I'm almost crying again haha.

    1. I agree with you 100% and am so glad you feel the same. I'd recommend this to anyone and everyone!

  3. A five star review, wow, I'm glad to see that as I have expectations for this book and when I eventually get my hands on it I think they'll far exceed those based off of your review.
    Thanks for the review Nicole :-)

    My Book Bubble

    1. I can't imagine otherwise. This book is just amazing. I can't say enough positive things! I hope you love it as much as I do!

  4. I've been really curious about this book after reading all the raving reviews. I'd normally wouldn't pick this book for myself, but I think I might like it. It does sound good. Great review :)


    1. DOOO IT!!! I really think you will like Meg. And even if realistic fiction/contemporary isn't your genre of choice it's one of those books that will move you regardless!

  5. Wow, this book sounds intense. I don't mind being pushed out of my comfort zone and I love a book that goes beyond the norm of every other book out there. Although the synopsis didn't convince me to read this book, your review certainly did. It sounds different but good. Just from reading those quotes I believe you when you say the writing is wonderful. I'm willing to take a chance. Thanks for another awesome review! Now it is my turn to tell you to stop loving so many TBR pile is getting crazy. :)

  6. I thought this book was very eye opening. I agree with you because I did very much love Carey's character she was very admirable for so many reasons! Great review :)

    Paige @ Comfort Books

    1. It was very eye opening. Those are the best contemporaries in my opinion. That's why I like the genre, I feel like I always learn something and can usually relate to some aspect of the book.

  7. I've been hearing a LOT about this book, so I'll admit that I'm very curious. I definitely intend on checking it out eventually, but I'll have to save it for a time when I want a thought-provoking read.


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