THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND ...
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 the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken
to re-enter the "normal" life of school, clothes and boys.
Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited
them away 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 a riveting mix of
psychological tension and page-turning mystery that asks profound
questions about family, truth and love.
I won an ARC of If You Find Me in a contest back in July, and I've been eagerly waiting to read it since then. I received my signed ARC and immediately made it the next book I would read as soon as I finished the one I was reading. I had high expectations for this book, and it definitely did not disappoint. I finished it within a day, loving the story, the characters, and the writing.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
Carey is a great, strong character. She had to deal with many difficult things while living in the woods, so she matured early. She grew up having to pretty much raise her younger sister, Jenessa. Some things that happened in the woods are things she can't forget, and she can't erase them. She tries to fit into her new life in modern society, but there are many things she doesn't understand. After so long in the woods, everything is unfamiliar to her.
The family relationships in this book are very well-written. It is clear from the start that Carey's father really cares about her and Jenessa. Carey's mom has told her some lies about her father, and she thinks they are true so she has to get past them. Carey's father cares equally for Carey and Jenessa, despite the fact that only Carey is his daughter by blood. Jenessa is Carey's half-sister, the daughter of her mom and some man who isn't in the book. Carey's stepmom, Melissa, is a great parent. She becomes like a mother to the girls when they move in. She seems to care about them as much as she cares about her own daughter, Delaney. The only person who isn't welcoming to Carey and Jenessa is Delaney, Melissa's fifteen-year-old daughter. She resents them taking attention away from her.
There is also a well-done friendship with hints of romance in the book. Carey meets Ryan on her first day of school, and he helps her find her way to homeroom. He comes out to her when she is playing her violin at lunch in the courtyard. She begins to open up with him, and they become friends, and possibly more. Later, he tells her that they actually knew each other as kids. Their relationship is developed slowly, without becoming a romance right away.
If you like emotional contemporary YA, read this book. It is going to be released in March 2013.