Published March 2013 by Blackstone Audio|Run Time: 7 hours, 51 minutes
Where I Got It: Audiobook|Audible
Genre: YA Contemporary
Goodreads Summary: Fourteen-year-old Carey and six-year-old Jenessa have lived in the woods with their mother for as long as they can remember. Now abandoned, they must fend for themselves until they’re found by Carey’s father and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of comfort. Carey desperately wants to believe in this new reality but is held back by loyalty to her mentally ill mother, who gave Carey her violin and taught her to play the music that helps her survive. And then there’s the other piece of Carey’s past that haunts her, the story of what happened to her and Jenessa that night in the woods- the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken in over a year.
I have such mixed thoughts on If You Find Me. There were things that just didn’t make sense for me throughout the book- but mostly in the beginning of the book.
I’m normally willing to overlook things, but If You Find Me is one of the rare books where I found myself not liking certain details. Like, the social worker who comes to get Carey and Jenessa comes with their dad. And Carey, Jenessa, and the social worker share one hotel room, while Carey’s dad is in the room next to them. Because it’ll be really late by the time they get to a group home, where Jenessa and Carey should be staying. Or Carey believing that her dad abused her and her mom when she was really little. That turns out to be lie told by Carey’s mom, but considering Carey believes that her dad was abusive for most of the book…I don’t just know. For the most part, I’m willing to overlook details like these, but it just really irritated me that the social worker didn’t talk to Carey or Jenessa on their own before the hearing. Or even that they were found so late in the day. I get they were hard to find because they were in a trailer in the middle of the woods, but that they got back so late…all of these details together were a bit hard to take in.
I get that Carey wants Jenessa to be happy and that Jenessa should have everything Carey didn’t. I get Carey doesn’t want her and Jenessa to be separated, and that it’s hard for Carey to talk about things, even if it means Carey doesn’t talk about how she remembers her dad hitting her and her mom.
Carey is a pretty unreliable narrator, and while I like that she remembers things differently (if she remembers them at all), I also found it slightly predictable. It just didn’t stand out to me, and I think that made it harder for me to connect with Carey. And while Carey pieces everything together in the end, it was too late for me at that point. I just didn’t care about what really happened to Carey when she disappeared with her mother or even what happened the night Jenessa stopped talking. I wasn’t surprised by a lot of the events of that night, but I will say it was the teensiest bit hard to listen to.
Speaking of listening, I thought Tai Simmons did great at narrating the book. While I didn’t completely feel like she was Carey, I still thought that she brought Carey to life.
So…Jenessa. Something I couldn’t figure out for a lot of the book was Jenessa’s age. Because there were times when it seemed like Jenessa was just a little kid, but there were other times when it seemed like she was a little older but had developmental problems. She seemed to adjust to everything really well, considering the fact that living in the woods was the only thing she had ever known. And Carey seemed to adjust really well too, but adjusting seemed a little bit harder for her than it was for Jenessa.
I do need to bring up Delaney for a second. It had to have been hard for her, living in the shadow of Carey’s disappearance. It seems like things get better between her and Carey, which is nice.
I thought Jenessa was adorable and I liked how protective Carey was of Jenessa. I did think her relationship with Delaney was interesting, and I also liked her friendship with Pixie. I also liked that Carey started to make peace with everything that happened to her growing up. Unfortunately, so many of the details made it hard for me to care about what was going on. If You Find Me gets 2 stars.