If You Find Me | Emily Murdoch | Book Review

When Wendy Darling recommends a book specifically to you, you pay attention and take notes. Y’all, Wendy was like hey I am doing this blog tour thing and I think you’d totally like the book. SHE WAS SO RIGHT, OMG. Y’all, I found myself loving If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch and thinking about it while I wasn’t reading. If You Find Me is the harrowing tale of Carey and her sister Jenessa who have basically been raised in isolation in the Thousand Acre Woods in Tennessee. It’s one of those books that totally made me question if someone was chopping onions near by and also one that made me wonder if there’s some kind of magic over at St. Martin’s — at least when it comes to contemporary YA (both this book and Eleanor & Park totally impressed me).

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch | Good Books And Good Wine

When Carey was very young, her mother whisked her and baby sister Janessa to the Thousand Acre Woods, claiming that Carey’s father was abusive. In the woods, the two girls really truly know poverty. They are completely isolated with no contact with the outside world. They live in an unheated camper and without modern amenities despite being in a modern world. To make matters worse, their mother is bipolar and addicted to meth and disappears for weeks at a time. During one of their mother’s disappearances, a strange man shows up with a social worker in tow. He’s Carey’s father and she only remembers the smell of his aftershave. He takes custody of the two girls and so they finally rejoin the modern world and must learn to do all of the things that you and I take for granted. Further, her father has remarried a woman named Melissa, who has a daughter named Delaney. It’s a bit of an adjustment period for everyone involved.

Ugh, you guys I can’t even be coherent about Emily Murdoch’s If You Find Me. My heart broke into a million little pieces multiple times for teenage Carey and her little sister Jenessa, but then there were moments that stitched it back together. I just found myself totally rooting for Carey and then dreading certain things. I was so nervous about an eventual revelation — it was very hard to read because I was so invested.Carey is such a strong character who has been given the short end of the stick in life. I couldn’t help but really want everything to work out perfectly for her. I wanted her to be able to talk educated. I wanted her to learn how to use a locker. I wanted her to get the guy (who totally does not solve all her problems, instead she’s proactive about that). Also, I loved how into playing the violin Carey was, how it was this sort of coping mechanism that helped her to be resilient in the face of what she has been through.

I think what I truly loved about If You Find Me is it’s treatment of abject poverty. Carey and Jenessa are raised in conditions where they actually are poor. There’s not enough to go around. They have to hunt their own food. Their clothing is not adequate. They do not have the basic necessities. Their time in the woods is not painted as a happy picnic or getaway, like in The Box Car Children. Instead, poverty is shown to totally suck. I loved that Murdoch incorporated food insecurity as well, and showed how it lasted well beyond their time in the woods. The two girls are constantly aware of food, even when it is plentiful and always available. I think that truly adds a dimension of authenticity, as food insecurity is a very real, very unfortunate experience.

This book is not light by any means. Murdoch really delves into child abuse and thankfully shows that healing can come afterward, even if it is a slow sort of healing. She shows that kids can learn to trust again if they are given a strong support network and if people genuinely care about them along the way. I just so totally felt for Carey and Jenessa and the horrific things they experience at the hands of their unstable mother, and ughhhh their trust issues. Lordy. You guys. Just lordy. BUT BUT, there’s a dog and the dog really helps the story. Trust, you will fall for Shorty like I did.

If You Find Me is written in first person and told through Carey’s point of view. I thought that the writing style definitely lent an emotional depth to the story. As it was written in first person, I felt like there was no distance between me and Carey. I couldn’t distance myself from what was happening to her which lead to a whole lot of feels. Murdoch’s debut is very short and a quick read, but it’s not one that leaves you quickly. I mean, here I am typing this review up 2 weeks after reading the book, but I can still clearly recall the emotions and so much of what I read it. It’s not an ‘easy’ read, but worth it.

Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley

Other reviews of If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch:

Book Savvy Babe – “ an unforgettable journey of Carey and her sister starting over
Making The Grade Reviews – “Not for the faint of heart
A Girl, Books And Other Things – “packed quite the emotional punch

The following two tabs change content below.
April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Well, I’m very intrigued. I haven’t heard much about this one, but now I must have it! It sounds so different and it takes place in Tennessee! Fab review, April!

    • Oh man, Lori this is totally a YOU book. Seriously, knowing how much you like contemporary and the emotional type of contemp, I know you’ll love If You Find Me.

      Thank you.

  2. Great review, I’ve been looking forward to reading this, I’ve heard some mixed things, but I still think it sounds really interesting.

  3. I loved this book. For many different reasons (and most of those you mentioned in your review). I loved the attention focused on the dad because fathers usually get the short end of the stick in YA novels (in my opinion). Great review, April.

  4. I really loved this book and I’m glad to see more reviews of it! Thanks for the shout out 🙂

  5. My goodness. Everything I’ve read about this book makes it sound amazing. I love that it is a tough subject that is written in a realistic but hopeful manner. I can’t wait to meet these girls for myself.

  6. Wow! This sounds intense! I’m loving this premise and I need to check this book out ASAP. It sounds like an emotional roller coaster ride but definitely worth reading. Great review!

  7. Oh, goodness! This is definitely one I would have to prepare myself before reading, but it also sounds like it will be worth it.

  8. I’ve heard so many good things about this book! I had to go out and get it when it was released and I cannot wait to read it. This review just highlights all the reasons. It sounds like an intense read, so I might need to prep myself a little bit before diving into it. But I’m glad to hear it’s a quick read too. Great review 🙂

  9. Oh man, this book sounds amazing. It came into the library the other day, and I almost checked it out, but decided to wait. Now I’m wishing I grabbed it. I will soon, though 🙂

    Hope your GREs went well!

  10. I loved this one so much too, and I am right there with you in being nervous to read the eventual revelations of all that had happened. As soon as I turned the page and saw that part 3 was about to start I grabbed a fresh box of tissues and hunkered down. I loved Carey so very much and really cared for her just like you did. Fabulous review, April!

  11. Lol! I have noticed that too about St. Martin’s. I’ve given so many low ratings to their paranormal/dystopian stuff, but like they publish Courtney Summers and Rainbow Rowell. Ummm, hello amazing contemporaries!

  12. This book has been popping up all over the blogging community lately, and I must admit that I’m very curious about it. It sounds completely gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, and I’m almost scared by the overwhelming thought of the emotions that it’ll draw out of me. Still, it seems like I should definitely check this out! Soon 😉

  13. Thanks for your fantastic review! This sounds like an amazing book and I will be sure to order a copy for my library (and read it myself) 🙂


  1. […] Murdoch to Good Books And Good Wine today. She’s the author of the emotional, heartfelt If You Find Me, reviewed earlier today. Emily has graciously decided to use her guest post space to promote a […]

  2. […] of what made Carey (and Nessa) who they were, left enough for real further exploration, too.” Good Books and Good Wine – “Murdoch’s debut is very short and a quick read, but it’s not one that leaves you […]