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If You Find Me: A NovelIf You Find Me: A Novel by Emily Murdoch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh boy! I loved this book; the grittiness grabbed me from the first page of Part 1 The End - revealing the hard scrabble existence in the deep, dark woods for fifteen year old Carey and her younger sister, nine year old Janessa. Carey is such a strong protagonist revealing their mother (drug addicted and bi-polar, off her meds) has been gone for two months and it is getting pretty desperate for the girls to subsist daily. But Carey never worries for herself, only for Janessa, who stopped speaking a year ago. They are forever changed when social services and Carey's father find them and "rescue" them. But that is not how Carey sees it; since her mother poisoned her long ago with tales of her father's anger and abuse. Carey and Janessa must now deal with a world of abundant food, clothing, people and many things they never had (toothpaste, toothbrush, showers, family, school, boys. Part II The Middle has the them going to school and navigating their new life. As Carey and Janessa harbor secrets from their years in the woods, they are slowly realizing what "family" really means with their father, his wife, and her daughter. But it is the beloved family dog, Shorty, with whom Janessa forges an immediate and unbreakable bond. As Carey begins her first day of school, she is saved by Ryan Shipley, after her stepsister, Delaney ditches her. He becomes her friend, protector, and maybe more? In Part III The Beginning, Carey and Janessa love their life with their family, but Carey and Janessa both know they must confront their past and secrets in the woods for true healing. Carey's character goes through many changes but she is throughout the book she is respectful, fiercely protective of her sister, a true friend, and grappling with new emotions, and feelings, and what she becomes in telling the secrets is an even stronger person with a forever home and a new beginning.

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