Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Without you, I wouldn't have had the pleasure of reading such a literary treasure! If You Find Me is now officially one of the best YA realistic fiction I've ever read.
First of all - the cover. The cover is B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. Some tend to overdo it with colorful computer-generated effects with gorgeous girls wearing equally gorgeous dresses, and I guess it worked for other books out there, but this? This looks real. And the model is just stunning - from her eyes to the freckles to that unrelenting gaze - a gaze that seems as if she's piercing and looking in your very soul... okay, maybe my attempt to be poetic was lame, but I speak with utmost sincerity that the cover is perfect and in some ways, absolutely captures the emotions found in this book. I could just stare in awe at it forever.
Second, the writing. Gosh, the writing. I made a post about this not too long ago, saying I was amazed at the author's writing prowess until the very last page. I couldn't believe at first that the book was her debut work, because it read like a book only a veteran could have written. I loved how the internal narration was written - it made the character feel real. It didn't feel like things were written there just for the heck of it, or to add pages... every word, every description, every narration - had an impact that made my heart swell and my throat tighten. I've lost count of all the times this book made me tear up and cry, and that's not an easy feat because for me, in order for that to happen to the reader, they will need to feel the character and be that character, and this was made possible by the excellent voice and internal narration the author has given the heroine. I can still experience my heart strings being pulled up to this day whenever I think of this novel...
The characters. Oh, goodness. All the feels. I love Carey. I love her sister, Jenessa, and I love their dad and their stepmom, too. They are such amazing characters, all with distinct voices that could sway even the stoniest of hearts. They were fictional, but the love they portrayed to each other felt more real than most families you see today, so it was really refreshing to see a situation where we do not see drama neither from the stepmom nor from the dad who has not seen his daughter for several years. I actually was expecting some hostilities from the stepmother (because that's what you almost always see in fiction), so color me impressed (read: very surprised) when there were none, and it made me feel happy for the heroine. The escalation of events was believable, and the development of the relationship between both father and daughter was both heartbreaking and heartwarming, backed by scenarios written so beautifully that even one's tear ducts can't help but burst out with sadness and with so much happiness as well.
Carey's slow but steady familiarizing of her new environment was such a joy to read as well. It felt like having a baby of my own and seeing him grow up with my own eyes in a span of 4-5 hours. I remember my chest swelling and my throat tightening every time she felt grateful for the littlest and simplest of things, and how she decided to open herself to other people despite all the scars her past gave her. I'm sure it's weird and it probably looks stupid, but I felt so proud of her! Haha. I don't remember any other book making me feel this way.
All in all, it was an excellent read. If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would, and the author deserves all the praise she gets and in my opinion, she deserves more! I'll definitely be looking forward to her other works!
Check out The Social Potato's blog to read this review and to get a chance to win Emily Murdoch's If You Find Me! Thanks, St. Martin's Press!