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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.
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Courtney Summers was born in Belleville, Ontario, Canada in 1986 and currently resides in a small town not far from there. At age 14, and with her parents' blessing, Courtney dropped out of high school to pursue her education independently. At age 18, she wrote her first novel and never looked back. Her first book, Cracked Up to Be, was published in 2008, when she was 22. To date, she has authored five novels and is best known for her unapologetic, difficult female protagonists. In 2016, Courtney was named one of Flare Magazine's 60 under 30.
This is not a book for the faint-of-heart. It is difficult and heartbreaking and dark. But the narration is magnificent. Split between a true crime podcast and Sadie's own narration, we learn what's happened to her and her younger sister. The parts where the reader knows more than the podcast guy are both thrilling and heartbreaking. The narrative is very cinematic in a lot of ways, with the dual narrators and timeline. Sadie is definitely an unlikeable heroine, but it works for this story. And I'm not big on podcasts, but I can see how that angle will draw in readers. The way the story is told, through the podcast and Sadie's POV, is so unique and really well done.
However, what I really struggled with is that there is little to redeem this story. It's dark and pessimistic, and none of the main characters are truly good people.
But I know plenty of readers will enjoy the podcast and mystery angles and will be hooked by the narrative!
Content warnings: pedophilia, sexual assault, foul language, death, violence.