“Girls go missing all the time.”
Life hasn’t been good to Sadie. An addict mother. A stutter that makes school a nightmare. Stuck in a small town just trying to stay alive. The only thing she has to love, is her little sister, Mattie. When Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s world ends. With no answers from the police, Sadie becomes determined to hunt down her sister’s killer and find justice on her own.
West McCray is doing a story on small town America. He hears about Mattie’s murder and Sadie’s disappearance, he can’t get the story out of his head. He begins to track Sadie down, and as he does, he can’t shake the growing feeling, that time is running out.
“It’s not in my head, it’s in my heart and she’s the same woman who told me if you’re going to follow anything, it might as well be that. Even if it is a mess.”
The first thing to talk about with this novel, is the incredibly creative way in which the story is told. Part podcast, part novel, you can approach this novel in several ways. The first, and probably most immersive experience is to buy the audio version. I haven’t actually listened to the audio, but if you follow @jennsbookvibes, you’ll trust her opinion on audio quality, and she raved.
If, like me, you aren’t keen on audio books, there is still a way Macmillan devised every reader to experience this interactiveness. The radio parts are all available, via podcast. You can listen to the podcast while you read, following along, or you can listen afterwards. I did the latter, and honestly, it didn’t ruin the experience for me. This is a book, a story, that sticks with you. It sinks deep inside you, staying with you. The podcast experience only adds to that.
“It all suddenly, and belatedly, felt too real, the things these girls had gone through, what can happen to missing girls.”
The other thing to talk about, is that this story is intense. It is dark, and tackles subjects that aren’t easy to read about. As the story progresses, both in Sadie’s narrative, and the podcast, we learn details of Sadie’s life that are heartbreaking. This is a tragic story, one that feels so real, it makes it hit home all the harder.
When I first began reading, changing between the more traditional narration of Sadie, and the podcast format of West, was a little jarring. However, it quickly became easy to transition between the two. In fact, the alternation builds the tension of the two story lines in a way that only adds to the intensity, tragedy, and heartbreak. The investigation combined with Sadie’s experience creates an eery feel. You can’t help feel this is real. And you can’t help feel that this is all leading to a not so happy ending.
“How she sounds, when she asks me this, makes me want to burn the world down. The sudden, fearful light in her eyes tells me all I need to know.”
But where the story ends, isn’t exactly the point. This is a book, a story, where the point is the journey. Most YA novels focus the come of age moments, and growth, on the main characters, perhaps one or two others, but really, the focus is the always on the main narrator. Here, nearly every main player in this story experiences their own ah-ha moments. Truth is a difficult thing. Elusive and hidden. Sometimes monsters hide in plain sight, and we misunderstand behaviors. Especially when we attach our own judgements to those behaviors. Good people make bad choices, and bad people make good choices.
I also love how this story deals with the very cruel reality that changing the future doesn’t change the past. Sadie herself has to struggle with this reality. You can do a lot to ensure a different future. But you can’t ever take away the things that have already happened. Sometimes damage is done, and it can’t be undone.
One of the most compelling things isn’t the way the story is told, although that’s phenomenal. It isn’t the heartbreak or the tragedy, even though this novel has that in spades. It’s the way this novel feels so human. We all have secrets. And judgements. Pre-conceived notions of who we think people are. We make decisions that spiral out of control, even when it could have been made in the best of intentions. Life isn’t black and white, it exists in a kaleidoscope of grey.
“My body is sharp enough to cut glass and in desperate need of rounding out, but sometimes I don’t mind. A body might not always be beautiful, but a body can be a beautiful deception. I’m stronger than I look.”
Sadie is a story about love. About the complex and messy nature of love. It’s about a girl, and her complex, messy relationships with the women in her life. It’s about mistakes, and bad choices, and good intentions. Sadie is a book I will come back to, because it’s a book that will stay with me.
For anyone who can handle the difficult subject matter, I would highly, highly recommend this novel! The unique way in which this story is told is captivating and clever. But the deeper messages, of complex females, of difficult tumultuous relationships, of the darker menace lurking in society, these are the themes that will stay with you long after the cover closes.
Thank you Wednesday Books and Macmillan Publishing for sending me an advance copy to read and review.