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review 2018-09-21 19:51
Sadie
Sadie - Courtney Summers

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

This was quite a gripping story, that for once I felt like reading more slowly than I usually do, perhaps because I kept dreading the next “Sadie” chapter, not knowing where it would take me… or, rather, suspecting where it would, and not wanting to see whether I was right or not. Why I do that to myself, I have no idea.

The mixed format, alternating between Sadie’s first point of view and the script of a podcast about her and her sister Mattie, worked pretty well for me. I’m usually a good enough audience for those novels that play with different formats, and this one wasn’t of the kind that tries too hard or think it’s so much more clever than it really is. “The Girls” is reminiscent of a true crime narration, and Sadie’s parallel narration puts everything back into perspective every time, adding heart to the more neutral tone of the podcast (although West McCray, the podcast’s “narrator”, is fairly involved—in fact, I’d say his involvement is similar to what I was feeling: he, too, wants and doesn’t want to know what he’s going to find).

Sadie’s story is both touching and sad. Here’s a girl who doesn’t have much—her mother’s an addict, she stutters and people make fun of her because of that, she doesn’t have friends, or money, or prospects… the kind of person that, too often, no one would really care about, because she’s not important enough, or was “looking for it”, or whatever similar tripe. She has a fierce love for her younger sister Mattie, and what happens to the latter devastates her to the point of taking her to the road in search of the truth.

In a way, the double narration is part of her life, too: while West keeps searching, there’s always that feeling that he’s not doing enough, not going fast enough, not digging deep enough, and you want to tell him “hurry up, we’re nearing the end of the book, find her before…”. After the abuse she’s suffered, you want someone to take care of her, not the way her surrogate grandmother did (Mae was her support as she was growing up), but as support in what she’s doing now, in her current odyssey as a girl become an adult much too soon, and who’s trying to right a wrong (and save other people) even if it means suffering so much herself. Because Sadie could’ve given up any time, turned back any time, and she doesn’t: it’s not only about Mattie, but about the others, too.

Conclusion: A slow read for me, as it was kind of painful and I kept dreading turning the page… but that’s also what made it a good book. Scary, creepy, horrifying, for the worst monsters are the ones who look human… but definitely a good book.

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review 2018-09-13 18:59
Sadie
Sadie - Courtney Summers
I think there has been a lot said about this novel so I won’t rehash what this novel is all about. This novel is about a topic that I am drawn to. As I read this topic: I want to see justice served, I want the pain to go away, and I want the fear to vanish.
 
I liked how Courtney Summers set up this novel. Alternating chapters between serial podcasts and Sadie’s perspective, it was different than other novels I have read pertaining to this topic. As I read Sadie’s portion of the novel, I felt more emotional and more in tune with the events that affected her. The material felt heavy and I understood exactly what Sadie was going through. As I read through the podcasts, these sections helped piece the story together but they didn’t seem to carry the emotional elements that I felt as I read Sadie’s own words. These podcasts were important to the story as they helped me catch my breath but they were, “like giving me the facts or weeding through the information,” for they were reporting and I just couldn’t find any emotion in them.
 
Although some individuals didn’t care for the ending, I enjoyed it. I thought it went well with how the novel was set up. I thought the author addressed the topics inside this novel very well and I was hooked from the beginning pages.
 
This novel is not for everyone because of its tough issues. I feel that the author tackled these tough issues in a unique style, producing a wonderful novel.
 
I received a copy of this novel from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

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review 2018-08-13 20:08
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Sadie - Courtney Summers

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Sadie hasn't had it easy.  Her drug-addict mother is in and out of her life and Sadie is tasked with raising her little sister, Mattie.

Mattie goes missing and is subsequently found murdered.  This absolutely destroys Sadie and after a botched police investigation, Sadie makes it her mission to bring her sister's killer to justice.  Following what little information she has, Sadie strikes out on her own to find him.

West McCray is radio personality who is working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America.  When he overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, West becomes obsessed with finding Sadie.  He starts his own podcast that tracks her journey in the hopes of trying to figure out what happened and to find Sadie before it's too late.

Summers contemporary story is not pretty.  It's gritty, raw, and at times unimaginable.  But the sad fact is that what happens to Sadie is not unique and the world can be a dark and terrible place. 

I struggled with Sadie as a character—on one hand, she's a total badass and could be a strong female lead, but on the other, she's basically still a child that has faced some incredibly brutal situations that no one, let alone a child, should be subjected to.     

The alternating points of view is the perfect vehicle for this story.  Sadie's first person voice is vulnerable as evident through her stutter, yet strong as apparent through her sheer determination and will.  She is lost and doesn't want to be found.  The only thing keeping her going is to find and kill the man responsible for Mattie's murder.  West's narrative is true to his occupation as a radio presenter in that he is factual and purposeful.  He frames his views into consumable content, albeit somewhat flippant, because he is reporting and investigating without any personal attachment.  I took this as a comment on the impact of media and how numb we are as a society to things that should be horrific and cause for reaction/action.

The two are on a similar trajectory—Sadie to find the man responsible for her sister's death and West to find Sadie.  With each turn of the page, the reader is hoping for them to collide and Summers capitalizes on this to propel her narrative.  Her pace is spot on.

This book is not for the faint of heart.  Summers preys on the reader's anxiety and ratchets this story to a whole other level.  I actually had to take reading breaks with this one, not only to catch my breath, but because I felt suffocated by Sadie's darkness.  This novel could be a trigger warning for some because of some of the subject matter and should come with a warning to call this out.  

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review 2018-08-11 22:25
'Sadie' has an inventive approach and is an emotional read; you won't forget this character or book for a while
Sadie - Courtney Summers

This is a wildly inventive and brave thriller, one that weaves ‘Sadie’s’ story, in which a teenage girl tries to find the man who has killed her beloved sister Mattie, together with a ‘podcast’ called ‘The Girls’. The two writing devices make this a refreshing read, and now with the podcasts actually streaming (yes, in real life), Courtney Summers and Macmillan have made this book a living breathing thing.

 

The book feels so 'alive', that you almost forget that Sadie (who has had a tough life: she has a stutter, her sister has been murdered, her addict mother has left) is missing. Author Courtney Summers opens the book with: 'Girls go missing all the time', so we may think of our main character as just a number, but then we are challenged when we are forced to get to know this young girl and so we start to have emotions towards her as we read the book.

 

Sadie wants to find the man who killed her little sister Mattie, and through both Sadie's perspective as she goes from buying a car so she can leave the tiny town of Cold Creek, to the shocking and emotional end of the book, along with 'The Girls' podcast as recorded by West McCray, this is a great big hunt; it's a hunt to find this man, a hunt to find Sadie, a hunt for the truth. There are lots of characters along the way that West speaks to, who knew the girls, their mother, who have made assumptions, as he tries to find the truth and get to Sadie, and he uncovers a tragic home life, and uncovers what likely many runaways and abused children go through each and every day beyond these pages. Sadie becomes more than just a vigilante seeking retribution for her sister; she is a tragic character who represents that 'lost little girl', the scared abused teenager on-the-run.

*Needless to say, many push-button issues come up in this book: child abuse, pedophilia, addiction, so there may be some readers who need to stay away for those reasons.

 

I left this book with a big hole in my heart, knowing that the issues contained within are real, even if the story isn't, even if Sadie isn't a real girl who went looking for her sister with all that love in her heart. The final two pages had me crying and smiling at the same time, and even with a bit of an open end (be warned, if you don't like those - I happen to love them), 'Sadie' finishes perfectly. Kudos to Courtney (and Macmillan) for bringing Sadie to life.

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review 2018-01-31 21:28
This shouldn't work but it does
Violent Ends - Brendan Shusterman,Courtney Summers,Neal Shusterman,Beth Revis,Elisa Nader,Shaun Hutchinson,Delilah S. Dawson,Tom Leveen,Trish Doller,Kendare Blake,E. M. Kokie,Blythe Woolston,Mindi Scott,Margie Gelbwasser,Hannah Moskowitz,Steve Brezenoff,Christine Johnso

So I generally reserve 5 star reviews for a both that was both excellent *and* I'm likely to want to reread. In this case, it's not necessarily that I'm likely to pull this down off the shelf over and over again, but that it was a truly remarkable book.

 

Told in 17 points of view, this is the story of - or maybe it's more accurate to say "around" - a high school shooting. Each segment was written by a different YA author and is from a different character or object POV. Remarkably, it still feels like a consistent, singular work. I would have thought the tonal shifts would be too jarring, or the way it doesn't come back around in a classic narrative structure would be more like reading a series of news accounts or a short story anthology. But - and this feels like a super weird comment to make - it reads really well. It's fast, engaging, even entertaining or enjoyable, at some level. The characters are well fleshed out, though it's hard to keep track of them and their relationships to one another, especially at first. There's insight, but not explanations.

 

The book as a whole doesn't answer much. The shooter was a boy with some problems. He might have been a good friend. He might have been destructive from a young age. He might have been bullied. He might have been suicidal. He might have had psychological issues. It might have been the system, or isolation; other kids, or school or genetics. There's complexity and confusion and bad choices and too much unexplored desire and it pretty much captures adolescence and the terrors and triumphs of high school. It's a mess and it's brilliant and remarkable.

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