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.
Rape, Sexual Assault, Murder, Violence
“Paul taught me a person committed to silence can suggest importance, strength. So long as they’re a man, I mean. It’s not an option when you’re a girl, not unless you want people to think you’re bitch.”
For the longest time in the story, I didn’t know what I was going to rate this. Yes, I was sad and empathetic and was so very nervous for the ending, but something just didn’t click for me in the emotions category. But then the last 20% happened… and here we are.
We follow Sadie as she looks for her sister’s murder through the POV’s of Sadie, a podacst called The Girls and the people Sadie encounters through the interviews they do.
This story was heart-racing in the sense that the story is unfolding so slowly, we as the audience know more than the podcast narrator, West McCray and it gave me so many conflicting emotions. Exasperation since he was only two steps behind Sadie, sadness for what Sadie went through and was going through currently, fear for how things would turn out in the end. Speaking of Sadie, I’ve never read about a character with a stutter. It wasn’t anything to point out, but it was a nice addition.
Little unimportant sidenote— West has my last name… so I instantly liked him. Yet, I also sympathized with him. Him and his husband have a daughter of their own, yet that’s not his motivation in doing this podcast. In fact, he doesn’t want to do it at all. Ignorance is bliss, girls go missing all the time, but the closer he gets to the truth, the more he knows he can’t back out.
“You know what everyone likes to forget about me? I was a kid. I was a kid when I got into all that shit. I was a kid addict. I was a kid when I had Sadie. And my mother— my mother dying. I was a kid for that too. I was an orphan. I’m not making excuses but I don’t understand why Sadie was too young for everything I put her through, but I … I was just somehow old enough for the shit that got thrown at me. Soon as she was born, May Beth ripped Sadie out of my arms and started turning her against me. It broke my heart. And I let it happen because I was just a kid and I was fucked up and I didn’t know how else to be. My mom was dead. There was no one. Sadie hated me , and all I could do was let her. And then Mattie came and— Mattie, she loved me.”
But then the twist happened… and I may have teared up. All of this, for one major mistake. Sadie’s guilt, her contemplation, her drive to make things right, to get closure; my heart officially broke. Yet as the story goes along, we see all of the people involved had a hand in the death of Mattie and Sadie’s disappearance. All of these people making mistakes… and Summer’s somehow manages to humanize them. You don’t forgive them, but you understand and at times, sympathize with them. Take Claire, Sadie and Mattie’s mother— after all she’s put these girls through, not once in this story did I think I’d understand where she’s coming from, let alone feel for her.
“A body might not always be beautiful, but a body can be a beautiful deception. I’m stronger than I look.”
And when the ending happened, I won’t say I’m not heartbroken. It manages to give answers while leaving so many questions. But it’s realistic. Not all stories have closure or a happy ending and for that, I respect how the book wrapped up.