Release Date: March 26th 2013
Summary (From Goodreads):
Carey is keeping a terrible secret. If she tells, it could destroy her future. If she doesn’t, will she ever be free?
For almost as long as she can remember, Carey has lived in the heart of the woods with her drug-addicted mother and six-year-old sister, Jenessa.
Their mother routinely disappears for weeks at a time, leaving the girls to cope alone.
Survival is Carey’s only priority – until strangers arrive and everything changes…
Man I seem to be on a role with good books lately. This one was just beautiful and I raced through it: it actually made me get up in the morning just so I could get on the bus to work and read some more. This book was a Christmas present, but it had been on my wish list because of its beautiful cover.
The characters in this book just sang to me. The characterisation was perfect, especially Jenessa, who managed to be highly expressive (and completely adorable) whilst barely saying a thing. Carey was a strong narrator, and while she sounded older than her years, it’s very understandable given the circumstances of her upbringing. Carey’s voice in the first chapter showed a lot about her character but I was glad that she decided to try and speak properly once in civilised company, as it could have gotten tiresome after a while (lots of dropping ‘g’s and such).
The little details in the book were the ones that brought it really to life for me. The Joseph, Patron Saint of Beans was mentioned often and was a great little addition that captured their whole life in the woods. The story flowed wonderfully, even though I did think that once they were found in the woods (very early on) there would be little story to tell. There is more to it than just them settling into a ‘normal’ life as it slowly builds towards revealing the secret that left Jenessa without her voice. But I found I didn’t necessarily need the drama: I was happy enough to watch them settle down and I was rooting for them so much. My heart sank a little when I realised the step sister was going to make life difficult for them because I felt they deserved a happy ending more than anyone else I’d read about.
I’ve seen a few people saying the story lacks credibility, as the social services procedures wouldn’t really go like that (the children should have been interviewed extensively about what happened to them, they wouldn’t have gone to live with the Dad straight away, especially as he’s not Jenessa’s father) but I think that’s a little pedantic. I didn’t want to read about that kind of process in great detail and I was perfectly happy to suspend my disbelief because the writing and characters were so worth it.
There are some dark issues in this book that, while aren’t described in too much detail, are hinted about enough for you to get the idea of the awful things that the girls have been through. Their bond as sisters is amazing (they would have been in my list of Top Five Sisters if I’d read it sooner) and I can’t remember a time when I wished so hard for a happy ending. Emily Murdoch weaves a beautiful, complex set of characters and is definitely one to look out for in the future.