St Martin's Griffin
March 26, 2013
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They call it the Hundred Acre Wood. Alone, secluded miles away from anyone in a broken down camper in a national forest, Carey and Janessa can only rely on each other. With their mentally ill mother gone more and more, for longer and longer it's entirely up to fifteen-year-old Carey to care for her six-year-old sister.
Until the day, with their mother seemingly gone for good, when two strangers arrive. The girls are taken out of the woods and thrown into a whole new world: one of bright lights, new clothes, enough food, high school, and boys.
Their new life is full of a great many wonderful things, but also forces Carey to confront some things. Like why her mother took her all those years ago, kidnapped her. And what the truth there really is.
There's also the life that refuses to be completely left behind. The life that carries with it a dark secret, hanging over Carey, threatening her happy new life. It's why Janessa hasn't spoken in over a year. Carey wants this new life, with friends and family and all it promises . . . but she knows if she told, it would all be gone.
If You Find Me is a book that had me from the very first page, though, admittedly, that was because it started with a quote from Pooh's Little Instruction Book. Really, you can't go wrong with Winnie the Pooh. AA Milne's story and its characters are used in If You Find Me in a pretty spectacular way. From the woods where Carey and Janessa are living being 'the Hundred Acre Wood' to the quotes from different Pooh books, to a few mentions of characters within the story.
The references make sense within the book and the quotes are great. It's also a great fit with Carey and Janessa having their little life in the woods, their own little world and the Pooh things bring that bit of almost innocence to something so tragic.
It's not a story focused on the darkness of the girls being alone in the woods. Or of Carey being taken there years ago. It starts out almost as they're found and taken out of the woods. Carey is telling us her -- and Janess's -- story as they're beginning this new life in the 'actual' world. We''re able to see just how much they were deprived of over the years based on how they encounter everyday things, things we've all known about possibly our entire lives.
It would have been one way to tell the story to show the girls in the woods, without enough food and alone -- and we do get some of that in flashbacks -- but I feel that having them out, in society, learning to be a part of the world is so much a stronger story. We learn so much more about them, their past and their bond. The bond between the sisters is incredibly well written and very compelling. We know that there's something more between them, that we're not seeing, at least not yet.
I was a teeny bit worried that the ending wasn't going to wrap up as much as I wanted it to, yet then it was just about perfect.
As I'm less able to clearly make my point the more I like a book, I'll leave you with two quotes from authors who do a better job than I saying what a superb read If You Find Me is:
"If You Find Me grabbed me by the heart on page one and didn't let go till the very last word. Murdoch's language is lovely, her storytelling gripping.” —Carol Lynch Williams, author of The Chosen One
“Searing . . . hurt my heart and will probably haunt my dreams – a beautiful book about survival, identity, family, love and so much more.” —Jenny Downham, author of Before I Die
thank you to the publisher for the egalley through NetGalley