Author: Emily Murdoch
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
The CoverI don't like or dislike the cover but I wouldn't have read it or checked it out based on the cover alone. It's a bit generic with the huge face of the girl and the woods but it does really fit the story. I guess I would have chosen to not use the big face of the girl on the cover. Alas, I ended up reading it because I stumbled over the description, a friend gave it an awesome review and it got high ratings in general. Never judge a book by its cover.
The StoryCarey lives in an old camper in the woods with her little sister Jenessa and her mother, who is away from them more than she is around and when she is around, she's not the kind of mother anybody would wish for. Not only is she mentally ill and not being treated, she's addicted to drugs as well and the girls are abused by her. The only thing Carey really lives for is her sister because without her Jenessa wouldn't be able to survive in the woods.
One day, while their mother has been gone for several weeks already and doesn't seem to be coming back anymore, two strangers arrive at their camper. The girls are taken away from the only home they ever really knew and are put in a normal home with a family and they have to start to adjust to a regular lifestyle. Further, Carey slowly unravels why their mother took her away when she was little and why they had to live in the woods like that. On top of that there's a secret the girls have, the reason why Jenessa has stopped speaking and something Carey does not want to face because she's afraid to lose everything they now have.
My ThoughtsThis is not an easy book to read, it's haunting and the story will stay with you for a while because even though it's fiction, you know that these things actually happen in the real world. While the girls get out of the woods quite early on, the story of what happened while they were living in the woods, slowly unfolds in flashbacks and I often cringed at the things that kept being revealed. Even though what Carey calls "the white star mystery" is something I suspected early on, once you get to that flashback it isn't any less cringe worthy.
Still, even with the very serious topic this novel deals with, it's an enjoyable read. The writing style is amazing and Emily Murdoch has captured Carey's voice in a wonderful way that never seems fake. You can really feel her struggles, insecurities and pain. She also did a great job with language, the book is set in the south and obviously because Carey was raised in the woods, she never really had a lot of exposure to people so her way of talking is quite different and she slowly starts to take care about talking more sophisticated. Another interesting thing is seeing how Carey and Jenessa slowly get to know things everybody takes for granted in their daily lives, you really start to see the world with different eyes.
The book deals with issues like child abuse and rape so if you're sensitive about those kind of topics, be careful reading this book; it is a YA book so even though the issues are tackled in a rather mild manner, they're still there. However, it is a wonderful read though and you will appreciate the beautiful things of it all the more because of the harsh other side.