Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication date: March 26th 2013
My rating: 4 stars
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.
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.