What is this about?: Sadie is a 19 year old girl crossing the country in search of the man she believes killed her younger sister Mattie. At the same time, readers are privy to West McCray’s investigation taking place months in the future into Sadie’s disappearance.
What else is this about?: It’s about survival, it’s about guilt and it’s about Sadie doing everything she could to hold herself together, to hold Mattie together in the face of a drug addict mother, who walked out on them and didn’t look back until it was too late.
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
Sadie isn’t a mystery. The book begins with Mattie’s death, and Sadie’s search for the man she knows killed her. On the surface, that’s what Sadie’s story about, but at it’s heart it’s about Sadie’s guilt, about not being enough for Mattie and not being strong enough to protect her when she needed it most.
That search takes her across country, going from address to address, and clue to clue trying to find the man that killed Mattie.
She’s 19, and it’s as if when Mattie she was born gave her life purpose. There’s about 6 years between them, but as Claire, their mother is a drug addict, Sadie takes on the role of mother in a way. When Mattie is murdered, it breaks Sadie, but what keeps her going is revenge — she knows exactly who killed Mattie.
Readers follow her on her roadtrip, follow her interacting with the people she meets, and the secrets she uncovers. And all the while Sadie unravels her truth of what happened between her and Mattie, and what their life together was like.
It’s hard to describe how heart-rending Sadie’s voice is. She is lost, grieving still for Mattie, and holding tight to the thought of revenge. Summers is excellent in letting Sadie’s vulnerability show through her anger, and it just made me ache for Sadie, for how strong is forcing herself to be.
Wes McCray and the Podcast
But it’s this podcast that actually brings Sadie’s story together. West McCray is a journalist who begins to investigate Sadie’s disappearance at the request of her grandmother. Through the podcast, we learn a different side to the story of Sadie and Mattie’s life that as much as it emphasises what they went through, it also fills out the story we are learning in her chapters.
These two parts work together so seamlessly, makes a complete picture of Sadie and Mattie as West investigates. While in Sadie’s parts it’s clear where she is emotionally, West’s parts are restrained at first before he begins to become more invested as the investigation progresses and readers can see how her disappearance, his investigation has affected him.
I was so impressed with this book, and the way these two parts worked together. Summers’ writing and characterisation is brutal in the best way, giving us the POV of two very different characters on one heartbreaking story.
Seriously guys, just looking at my review makes me think how inadequate it seems in the face of the story I’ve just finished. Whew.