Monday, January 7, 2013

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

14-year-old Carey lives with her younger sister and mother in a broken down trailer parked in what they call the Hundred Acre Wood.  Carey's mother is bipolar and addicted to meth so the two girls are left alone in the woods on a regular basis.  And when their mother does come back to the trailer she often brings along strangers with bad intentions.  As the book opens Carey and Jenessa have been on their own for five weeks and food is running out.  They are surprised when two people appear out of the woods - a social worker and Carey's father whom she hasn't seen since Mama abducted her over a decade ago.  The girls are even more surprised to hear that their mother wrote a letter giving them up and telling where they were located.  Now Carey and Jenessa are going to live with the father they were told was abusive and have to adjust to a life they've never known.  But being well fed, clothed and rested for the first time in their lives doesn't mean that they can forget everything that happened in their past.  Although their situation is extraordinary the events in this book don't feel at all unrealistic.  The contrast between their time in the woods and the life we take for granted is subtly done and makes the point that we all ought to be grateful without being overbearingly preachy.  Carey's hesitation to accept her father and her new life is also realistic and understandable given the experiences that are slowly revealed as the book goes on.  I liked all the adult characters who are nice and helpful to the girls but still believable as real people, especially Carey's father.  And the surprise addition of the stepsister added depth to the story of the girls' recovery.  Delaney rang true as she vacillated between being sympathetic to Carey and nastily resentful.