by Courtney Summers
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.
This was my buddy read with Melanie from MeltotheAny and I have some strong feelings about this book. Let’s get into it, shall we?
When I first heard about Sadie, I wasn’t so sure if I wanted to read it. (Funnily enough I came to know about it on a podcast.) I wasn’t sure because it’s not really my usual or even preferred genre, I tend to avoid reading books that might leave heart-ache behind or might scar me emotionally because of my mental health. However I have started giving some select few books a chance because I felt I was mentally in a place where I could handle the content. I mean, I am not saying I don’t cry while reading those books, I am just saying I am able to read them without going down that rabbit hole of sadness and depression.
With Sadie, I can’t say that it was only the subject matter that bothered me or made me sad, it was Sadie herself. I can’t even say I enjoyed the book because I don’t think anyone did enjoy this book or went into this one thinking they would enjoy it. There are books out there for the sheer purpose of being entertaining, this is not one of those books. It showed so many sides of the human nature I have been lucky enough to not have faced, the raw agony of emotions were too much at once and yet, I finished it in a day. Due to work restrictions, I couldn’t finish it in one sitting, I think I would have if I could have.
I kept you alive for thirteen years.
Waking her up in the morning, making her meal, walking her to the school bus, waiting for her at its stop when the day was over, grinding my bones to dust just to keep us holding on and when I lay it out like that, I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know where, underneath it all, you’d find my body. And I don’t care. I’d do it all again and again for eternity if I had to.
This book is about Sadie and her search for her sister’s killer, the man who hurt her but it is also about Sadie’s world collapsing and crumbling around her after the death of her sister. Mattie, Sadie’s sister, was everything to Sadie and Sadie was Mattie’s mother when their mother couldn’t be there for them. After the murder investigation which turned up no solid leads, Sadie decides to go out and find the murderer all by herself.
Here was the promise of something. I knew that I could be her world. I knew she was definitely going to be mine.
I just wanted to matter to someone.
Here’s where the format of the book works so well. On one hand, we have West McCray, a radio/ podcast presenter who is trying to find clues and trails that Sadie left behind when she started to look for Mattie’s murderer and then we have Sadie herself living on the road, trying so desperately to find the man, all the while losing herself as more time passes.
The more you read, the more you just want Sadie to be found by the right people and the further the story progresses, the more your heart is likely to splinter into tiny pieces. One of the hardest thing is, the more reckless Sadie becomes, the more you want West to find her because it was a bit too much for my soft heart to bear reading about.
When I asked her about it afterward, she said, and I’ll never forget it-she said, “I don’t think I’ll ever be enough for Mattie.”
Mattie was never content with just having her sister.
Sadie has suffered so much in her life and so much of her perspective offers that raw, painful account. I think I should warn you that there are no light moments in the book and perhaps, there shouldn’t be. Courtney Summers handled the subject really well without being too graphic about it. The subtle hints that she does leave behind are enough to last a while. Rather than telling us the gory details, she showed how the abuse affects the victim so if you are sure you can handle it, read it.
When Mattie was seven days old, and I was six, I stood over her crib and listened to her breathing, watching the rise and fall of her tiny chest. I pressed my palm against and I felt myself through her. She was breathing, alive.
And I was too.
The timeline initially confused me because I wondered exactly how long it had been since Sadie took off but in the end, it’s rather up to you how you want to look at it. Also, the ending. Gosh. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but let’s just say I was sure that there was an epilogue or something ahead. There wasn’t. That really made me so frustrated but it was the best end possible, I think.
So despite all the heart-ache or maybe because of it, Sadie is worth a read. It was a five starred read for me because it touched so many issues while not managing to mess up any of them and that is something of a feat in my books.
Content and trigger warnings for pedophilia, loss of a loved one, bullying, assault, sexual assault, murder, death, extreme parental abandonment and neglect, talk of suicide, drug use, and underage drinking.