Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: YA Fiction
Trigger Warnings: pedophilia, sexual abuse, abusive parents, murder.
Read If: You like true crime podcasts. (Particularly great for Serial fans)
Goodreads synopsis: A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.
Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.
But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.
When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.
Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page
Overall: 5/5 Stars. Very well written, and very well executed.
Non-Spoiler review: First of all, if you like audiobooks at all, I really recommend listening to the audiobook for this one. The voice actors are amazing, they have different actors for each character, the podcast has music, and it even has sound effects. I listened to the audiobook to and from my graduate school visits, and it kept me immensely interested despite all the distractions and nerves.
I loved the multiple perspectives in the story and how the investigation is always a step behind Sadie. The book jumps back and forth between where Sadie is in her journey and where the investigation thinks she is. We also see people who interact with Sadie and how they communicate when interviewed by the podcast.
To me this book was more than just a mystery/thriller. It was trying to clear up what really happened, except we know what really happened so we know when the investigation goes wrong.
Sadie is such an unbelievably strong character. I loved how she interacted with her speech, constantly battling back and forth with how the world understood her and how she wanted to be understood. The reader knows what she means to say in her mind, and is able to compare that with what she actually says and how the world understands her. Her actions quite literally speak louder than her words.
All the triggering scenes are censored so nothing is fetishized. The story revolves mostly about how the characters deal with what has happened and the relationships they form as a result.
Overall, this book made a lasting impression. I read it at a time when I was looking to understand the narratives of people who’ve been in these compromising situations. I had just finished the Serial podcast which I believe inspired the book, and I loved seeing the way the case was handled.
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