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This is a wildly inventive and brave thriller, one that weaves ‘Sadie’s’ story, in which a teenage girl tries to find the man who has killed her beloved sister Mattie, together with a ‘podcast’ called ‘The Girls’. The two writing devices make this a refreshing read, and now with the podcasts actually streaming (yes, in real life), Courtney Summers and Macmillan have made this book a living breathing thing.
The book feels so 'alive', that you almost forget that Sadie (who has had a tough life: she has a stutter, her sister has been murdered, her addict mother has left) is missing. Author Courtney Summers opens the book with: 'Girls go missing all the time', so we may think of our main character as just a number, but then we are challenged when we are forced to get to know this young girl and so we start to have emotions towards her as we read the book.
Sadie wants to find the man who killed her little sister Mattie, and through both Sadie's perspective as she goes from buying a car so she can leave the tiny town of Cold Creek, to the shocking and emotional end of the book, along with 'The Girls' podcast as recorded by West McCray, this is a great big hunt; it's a hunt to find this man, a hunt to find Sadie, a hunt for the truth. There are lots of characters along the way that West speaks to, who knew the girls, their mother, who have made assumptions, as he tries to find the truth and get to Sadie, and he uncovers a tragic home life, and uncovers what likely many runaways and abused children go through each and every day beyond these pages. Sadie becomes more than just a vigilante seeking retribution for her sister; she is a tragic character who represents that 'lost little girl', the scared abused teenager on-the-run.
*Needless to say, many push-button issues come up in this book: child abuse, pedophilia, addiction, so there may be some readers who need to stay away for those reasons.
I left this book with a big hole in my heart, knowing that the issues contained within are real, even if the story isn't, even if Sadie isn't a real girl who went looking for her sister with all that love in her heart. The final two pages had me crying and smiling at the same time, and even with a bit of an open end (be warned, if you don't like those - I happen to love them), 'Sadie' finishes perfectly. Kudos to Courtney (and Macmillan) for bringing Sadie to life.