Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Trigger Warnings: Rape/Molestation of minors
Quote: My body is sharp enough to cut glass and in desperate need of rounding out, but sometimes I don’t mind. A body might not always be beautiful, but a body can be a beautiful deception.
Sadie’s life hasn’t been easy. She lives in a nowhere town, taking care of her little sister, Mattie, while their mom is strung out on drugs and alcohol. When Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s world completely crumbles. Taking matters into her own hands, Sadie decides to hunt down the man who killed her sister. West McCray, a radio host, is working on a piece about small, forgotten towns in America when he hears about Sadie and Mattie. Reluctantly, he goes to investigate, hopefully, before it’s too late.
As I way to support independent bookstores, I only include links to indie bookstores. Uncle Bobbie’s and Eso Won Books are not only independent bookstores, but they are also black-owned bookshops. If you use Bookshop, you can specify whichever indie bookstore you want the funds to go to.
“I can’t take another dead girl,” the words May Beth Foster tells West McCray that convinces him to go and see if he can find Sadie. Our main protagonist. The book goes back and forth between Sadie’s point of view – from when she left home, or what was left of it, to her last known location – and West’s podcast “The Girls.” The reason why Sadie left her small, no one’s going anywhere, town: her sister was murdered, and she knows who did it. What would any of us do for the ones we love?
I finished this book in one sitting, it was that good. I do want to give a warning that someone gave me and that is the book does end on a cliffhanger. I particularly was okay with the ending due to how they lead up to it. I know tons of people who wouldn’t like it, which is why I wanted to preempt this review with that knowledge.
Sadie has lived her whole life in Cold Creek, CO with a mom who cares more about her next hit than being a mother. Before Mattie, Sadie’s sister was born, Sadie was mostly a shell of a person. Never really came alive until Mattie was there, then she had a purpose in life. Taking care of Mattie. She tried to do her best, yet it didn’t help that their mom cared more for Mattie than Sadie. Sadie tried to hide her mom’s worst qualities from her little sister to protect her. One day, their mom splits. No note, nothing, just gone. Mattie spirals down into a depression. That was the thing with a dysfunctional family: Sadie’s world was Mattie, Mattie’s world was their mom, and their mom’s world was drugs and alcohol. No one was satisfied or truly taken care of. There’s more we find out about the family’s relationship throughout the novel. We never really know what the truth is and as West says at the end “But love is complicated, it’s messy. It can inspire selflessness, selfishness, our greatest accomplishments, and our hardest mistakes. It brings us together and it can just easily drive us apart” (307).
As I said, the ending is open-ended. It’s up to the readers to decide what happened to Sadie. I like to think no matter what she left the world in peace, knowing she did everything she could for her sister.
It took May Beth’s words to guilt West to come and check out what happened to Sadie. He didn’t want to because “girls go missing all the time. And ignorance is bliss. I didn’t want this story because I was afraid. I was afraid of what I wouldn’t find and I was afraid of what I would. I still am” (307).
That’s the point. Everyone complains about all the true crime podcasts, all the murder that surrounds us. It’s sad that we do live in a world that has so much murder. I do feel guilty sometimes listening to all these murder podcasts. Am I honoring the victims? Or glorifying their killers? I don’t know.
Girls go missing all the time, and most of the time we don’t notice. Because they’re not pretty enough. Or from the right neighborhood. Or any other million reasons that the news stations decide to pick one girl out of hundreds to cover for a story. Cause girls go missing all the time. The loved ones are left to pick up the pieces and have a semblance of a life.
For Sadie, nothing else mattered once Mattie was gone, not even her own life. But it doesn’t matter that we don’t know what happened to Sadie. There are hundreds of girls who are missing right now, and god, I do agree with May Beth and West “I can’t take another dead girl.”
edited May 26, 2020 to add trigger warnings