- my rating:4 stars
- published by: Wednesday Books
- genres: young adult, mystery, contemporary
- content warnings: sexual abuse, child abuse, pedophilia, violence, murder, addiction
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.
“People don’t change.
They just get better at hiding who they really are.”
Sadie has got to be one of the most gut-wrenching, emotionally exhausting, and yet wholly satisfying books I have ever read. Told partially in narrative format from Sadie’s point of view, and partially via podcast put together by the character and journalist West McCray this is one of the most unique books, structure wise, I’ve ever read. I loved the dual narration here. The podcast format wasn’t something I’d seen before and it immediately drew me in. It also worked so well as a vehicle for exploring the thematic issues, especially in emphasising the novel as a “fictional true crime”.
Sadie, the titular character, is on a mission to avenge her little sister Mattie, who she practically raised. What follows is a harrowing, oftentimes horrible story that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.
One of the greatest strengths of this book is it’s main character. Sadie is such a driving force in this book, her narration is often blunt and errs on the side of unreliable at times, but she’s such a singular force and character within this book. She is determined, grief-stricken, angry, violent, yearning, patient, and so much more. She really feels like such a realised, fully formed character, with both strengths and flaws. I really loved the realism of her character. Sadie is a strong character, in many ways, and it was so nice to have a main character who’s dangerous and determined, whilst also so painfully human and broken in many ways.
I’ve never read a Courtney Summers book before, but I hear she doesn’t pull the punches when it comes to laying down pain and realistic trauma on the page and I got that here. Sadie’s past is horrible and deeply saddening, I think this book found a good balance in representing but not romanticising or simplifying trauma and awful lived experiences. I also really liked how the true crime approach worked to examine the treatment of these issues in real life and the affect they have on individuals and communities.
“It was a terrible thing, sure, but we live in a world that has no shortage of terrible things. You can't stop for all of them.”
Finally, I need to talk about the audiobook because it is great. The audiobook features a full cast and effects to emulate a real podcast during those sections. The high quality production of the audiobook and thought that had been put into translating the book was a delight, and it’s one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. I wish more audiobooks were this thoughtful in their production.
Sadie is one of those books that just follows you around long after you finish it. Although parts of it were hard to read, due to the heavy subject matter, it was still one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read and I could not put it down. The podcast formatting is singular, and Sadie as a character is a driving force, who’s narration and story will haunt you long after you finish reading it. Although the ending was too open for my liking, (I recognise it was part of the formatting and aided in driving home the themes I GET IT .. I just still need closure okay!) this is still such a wholly well conceptualised book which excellent plot and character construction. Sadie has launched itself into my list of best 2018 releases.
until next time!