This is a heavy tale to unpack, and there will be triggers related to child abuse, so please keep that in mind before you delve into this post, or consider reading this book.
Goodreads Synopsis: A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.
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 meager 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.
Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.
Sadie is the older sister of Mattie. Sadie drops out of school when her mother refuses to care for them, and ensures that she provides the best care for Mattie that she possibly can. She’s 16, Mattie is 11.
Fast forward to present day, 19 year old Sadie, and Mattie is dead.
On top of being a mother to her baby sister, Sadie has a severe stutter that was never corrected. Rather than talk incessantly, she observes. She is keen on detail and has an excellent memory. She doesn’t waste time on words that don’t matter. She thinks, she plans, and she acts. Her stutter made her quiet, but inside she was full of love and rage.
Sadie’s tale is told by West McCray, a member of a podcast that was later called the Girls in memory of all the lost girls out there. West has a young daughter, so this tale is not easy for him to follow, but he’s determined to get justice for Mattie and Sadie, especially Sadie.
Sadie becomes a kind of detective and goes on a manhunt to track down the man who killed her sister. This man is Keith, Christopher, Jack, Darren, etc. He’s every man inside of one man. One sick individual who has a perversion of liking little girls. Sadie let him hurt her to protect her sister, but ultimately, her hurt Mattie despite Sadie’s best efforts.
It’s hard to decide who was hurt more. Mattie? At least her pain ended in her death. Sadie? Alive, but living through the memories and her sisters death. Both are awful. Both are disgusting, and both should have never happened.
Throughout this read, I found myself admiring Sadie. She has a single minded determination and will stop at nothing to avenger her sister, even at the cost of her own life. Summers wrote a brutal, gut wrenching tale, and I couldn’t put it down until the end.
“And Sadie, if you’re out there, please let me know. Because I can’t take another dead girl.” -West McCray
Other notable quotes:
…he wanted [small town] residents to tell us what those places lost, not because we thought we could restore them to their former glory, but simply so you knew they existed. We wanted to give them a voice before they disappeared. -West McCray
May Beth always told me that I can’t do that; I can’t hate people for having more than me, but she’s wrong. I can. I do. It’s the perfect wall between myself and the kind of longing that poisons your gut and turns our insides right out. -Sadie
…places like that, places that look so nice they don’t seem real? The worst shit you can imagine happens in them. -Cat Mather