Written by Courtney Summers
Published by Wednesday Books, September 4, 2018
My star rating: 4 stars
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 meagre 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. Find it on Goodreads
I’ve never hidden the fact that mysteries aren’t my favourite. I find that they string me along with possibilities and questions, and give very little answers in return. But, every so often, there’s a book that sounds way too interesting to pass up! A girl loses her sister and her death is left unsolved. This sister was all that Sadie had left, and she would do everything in her power to find the killer, but then she goes missing in the process. Months later, a man hears of Sadie’s story, decides to do a podcast series about these sisters. See what I mean? Too interesting to pass up!
Courtney Summers is an author i’ve heard of for quite some time. People in the blogging and YouTube community always comment on her ability to create emotional attachments to characters and invoke thoughts and broken hearts over hard hitting topics. Well, I would have to agree with you now. This book wasn’t an easy read emotionally. The way that she wrote the characters and the situations was so raw and jagged. Every detail of Sadie’s life was built piece by piece and created this heart breaking life of a young girl. There was a young girl who wanted her mothers love more than anything, but all the mother had room for was booze. She had many men in and out of her life. She had a stutter that was never given the chance to coach away. And there are so many other things that happened that you will have to uncover for yourself.
I also really loved the way she wrote connections between the characters. Part of solving the mystery of Sadie and her sister, is piecing together the dynamics and people in Sadie’s life. Everyone played a different role and they were all connected in some way or another. The actions of others sometimes created an avalanche of events which in turn shaped Sadie’s life. As these pieces of the puzzle are put together through the story, the connections, the people, and everything else form Sadie’s life.
Over the last year I myself have fallen down the criminal podcast rabbit hole. I’ve spent countless nights listening to true crimes and the people effected by them. And I know I’m not the only one who has recently been obsessed with them! But after reading Courtney Summers’ answer to my question, along with finishing this book, I realized something about podcasts: they never tell the whole picture. You know the basics, the timeline, some facts…. but there’s still so much left unsaid. Those tiny details of who a person talked to, their emotions, their intentions, their reasons, and their hearts, are all missing from the story. Podcasts are easy to manipulate. Show the audience the softer side and you find yourself sympathizing, Show the brutal parts and omit the emotion, and you assume the person in reference is a monster. Podcasts aren’t finite – they are there for entertainment purposes.
Reading this book through the episodes of a podcast while simultaneously following Sadie was such an interesting aspect! We get the emotional side of the ones who love her, we get the side of the people she met along the way who were angry, sceptical, or just plain didn’t care. And then we get the perspective of Sadie herself as she unravels the truth of her sisters death, while also dealing with the ghosts of her past. Thanks to the format of this book, the impact of all of this was easy to feel, making the book and the situation feel so large.
The issues that I had with this book were minimal. For one, this is labeled as a thriller on Goodreads and I don’t feel as though it was a thriller. Mystery? Yes! But thriller, no. There weren’t any terrifying or scary aspects to make me think of it in that way. There was also a lack of scary details for it to be considered thrilling for me. There was a lot of speculation and nods to directions, but never anything “thrilling”. And somewhere in the middle of the book, as things seemed to calm down a bit for Sadie, I felt as though I was losing focus of the story. Luckily this only lasted maybe a chapter or two and then everything was pulled back on track and I was once again completely immersed.
I absolutely enjoyed this book! The format of the dual perspective between the perspective of the main character and then the podcast was just brilliant. And this book hit my emotions far harder than I thought it would! I went into it expecting a mystery, and that’s what I got. But I also got a heartbreaking story of a girl doing right by her sister.
AUTHOR Q & A:
What inspired you to write this book? Specifically, is there a podcast that you listen to that made you want to include such an interesting element to the way the story is told?
I wanted to explore the way we consume acts of violence against women and girls as a form of entertainment and take a look at what that might say about us as an audience, and what the personal cost and larger consequences of choosing to tell these stories might be. The podcast format was the perfect conceit to explore those questions and Serial, and the worlds response to it, was certainly a factor in helping me realize that.
As an added bonus to the reading experience, there is an actual podcast to listen to! Search for The Girls: Find Sadie wherever you listen to podcasts. This helped even more to put voices and emotions to the characters. But it’s also what helped me see the differences between reality and entertainment. I am really interested to see if any of you readers had a similar experience!
Thank you so much to Raincoast Books Canada and Wednesday Books for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour! I am proud to represent a fellow Canadian and absolutely loved this book and the experiences I had while reading. All opinions are truthful and uninfluenced.
Until next time, happy reading!