Sadie by Courtney Summers
Published by Wednesday Books
Published on September 4, 2018
Genres: Crime, Mystery, Young Adult
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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.
I cannot express how grateful I am to have gotten to read this book. This may just have come at the right time in my life – and maybe the right time in many peoples lives. It made me sad, and angry, and curious… I felt weighed down by guilt. That is not normally a feeling a book evokes from me, but in this case, it was right. This book is doing something really interesting too – its including modern popular media.
I know I am not the only person addicted too and riveted by murder and crime podcasts. There is one in particular that always stood above the rest to me, called Up and Vanished. It’s about this kind of average Joe, who sets out to find out what happened to a woman who had been missing for over 10 years, and it’s amazing what he does. As soon as I started reading Sadie, I immediately got those UAV vibes. I could hear it all perfectly in my head. At the time, I had not yet discovered that Macmillan was putting out actual podcast episode leading up to the release of the book. I love this form of mixed media, it really helps add to the chapters that are the podcast transcripts, and it makes the book feel that much more somber, like you are carrying the weight of every person they interview during the course of it. Check out the clip below, and click for full episodes (they are free!)
Okay, now that I’ve raved about how interesting that is, lets get to more important things – the story.
I almost don’t know where to begin. My hear still feels so heavy. That’s great description for this book, heavy. Mattie’s death alone is dripping in sadness. A young girl, gone so quickly, no explanation, in such a devastating way…. just like something ripped from today’s headlines. This lead Sadie down a dangerous path, looking for both vengeance for herself and her sister, and redemption, I think, for herself alone. She knew the world had turned it’s back on her, like so often happens to young people in these situations, so she had to take it into her own hands.
We follow Sadie and the podcast in alternating chapters, the podcast seemingly on the Sadie’s trail, but with months in between. Pieces of a puzzle all slowly creep together, leaving you feeling unsettled and grim. When long buried secrets are brought into the light of day, it’s shocking and heartbreaking.
This book is oozing sadness and loneliness. It’s weeping for childhoods lost in time, lost to monsters. It’s heart aches for children from broken families, where there is no one to be there for you but YOU. The amount of guilt that settled in me after reading this was enough to send me looking for my own answers, to questions I wish I hadn’t asked. After I found myself down a Google black hole of statistics on missing women and children, on how many were found alive, found dead, had been abused, or never found at all, I felt so guilty and sad that there is nothing I can do. I imagine what they could have gone through, possibly very similar to events in this book. This book forced me to think about what is happening around me, in the most painful way, but in a way that we all need. We need to be aware.
Maybe this book will make you long for answers and want to hold your family closer at night. Maybe you will read this and feel fine, complacent in your safe bubble. But I hope it makes everyone just spend some time thinking about the reality of this book, and all the lives lost to the monsters hiding in plain sight.
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