Book review: Sadie by Courtney Summers


5/5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with this ARC.

HSP/trigger warning: paedophilia.

Wow, this book really got under my skin. And if I hadn’t had other things to do I probably would have finished it in a day. As it was I read the last 70% or so in one big gulp.

It’s not a story for the faint-hearted. It’s a story about a dead girl. And a sister’s desperate journey to avenge the death. It’s real, it’s gritty, and it’s heartbreaking. Thematically the writing reminds me a little of Gillian Flynn, which is not a bad thing – that’s exactly the kind of dark and gritty story I can’t get enough of. Though the story itself is not like anything I’ve read before.

There are two POVs. One is a podcast made by a radio personality called West McCray, whose help has been enlisted in finding Sadie, after she disappeared without a trace not long after her younger sister Mattie was found murdered. Sadie’s car with her belongings in it has been found, but there’s still no trace of the girl.

The other POV is Sadie herself. Sadie and Mattie grew up in a trailer park with a mother who was a drug addict. There was not always something to eat available, and there were always different men in and out of the trailer. Mostly they were harmless, mostly they didn’t care about the kids at all. But one man cared too much. In ways you’re not supposed to.

The girls’ mother up and left them some time ago, and Sadie has been taking care of Mattie ever since. Truthfully, Sadie has been taking care of Mattie her entire life. Mattie is literally Sadie’s only reason to live. And when she is murdered, Sadie embarks upon a journey of revenge, with nothing left to lose.

Sadie is a 19 year old girl, and she is starved. Of love, certainly, of attention too, and of basic sustenance – she just hasn’t gotten most of her basic needs filled for most of her life, despite the kindly interference of her “adoptive grandmother” May Beth. And now the very last thing, the only thing that she cared about has been taken away from her. She gets in a cheaply bought car with a few belongings and little money to her name, with only one goal: she will find the man who murdered her sister and she will kill him.

She is certainly a complex character and she has her dark sides, but most of all she is loveable and fragile and I just want to take care of her and tell her everything will be OK. But it will never be OK again – it’s too late for any of that, and Sadie knows it.

This was really rough to read, but also extremely engaging. The style worked well and the writing was fantastic. My heart really broke for Sadie. Recommended read, but you have to be ready for it. You have to be ready for the rawness, the emotions, the dirty deeds.

This was my first Courtney Summers book but I can say for pretty much certain it won’t be my last. And I’m all the more impressed by her being so young (and so prolific already). Sadie is a serious book and a serious accomplishment. This author does not shy away from the darker side of life.




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