cover image If You Find Me

If You Find Me

Emily Murdoch. St. Martin’s Griffin, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-02152-6

Many years ago, 14-year-old Carey and her younger sister, Nessa, were kidnapped, hidden in the backwoods of Tennessee, and raised apart from society by their meth-addicted mother. After having abandoned the girls for months, she contacts the girls’ father, who rescues them from the trailer where they’ve been living on their own, whisking them away to his gorgeous home, his understanding new wife, and her less understanding daughter. Murdoch’s debut is poetic and beautifully written, and therein lies part of the problem. Carey’s narration wavers between the gaps caused by her isolated upbringing and moments of beyond-her-years brilliance (“handburgers” and fries are a mystery, yet she tests two grades ahead of her age and often delivers lines like, “I duck my head and smile, unmoored by the flood of unexpected emotion”). Add in Carey’s model-level beauty and virtuosity as a violinist, and the novel’s sense of realism takes a hit. That said, Carey and Nessa’s story is memorable and deeply moving, and readers will find it very easy to fall in love with these girls. Ages 12–up. Agent: Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Literary Agency. (Apr.)