Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Released: September 4, 2018
Content Warnings: Sexual assault, coercion, sexual abuse, paedophilia, child abuse, parental neglect, violence, death, addiction
Representation: Sapphic, B? Pan? addiction, trauma, stutter
Synopsis*: A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.
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 meager 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, the character, is all sharp edges and dark shadows and will definitely cut you as a warning.
Sadie, the book, isn’t any different.
I’ve been waiting for the perfect book to use this song for and I found it.
And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.
Get ready for Uncomfortable City, population: this book and everyone who reads it.
Wait don’t run away!!! Because yes, this book is uncomfortable but uncomfortable can sometimes be good, it means we’re unlearning the bad shit and learning the good shit and boy does this book have a whole a lot of learning points for everyone.
Sadie is the kind of book that burrows deep into your soul.
That part of your soul now belongs to Sadie forever. You can try arguing your way out of it but it’s impossible. You can’t read a book like this and have it not affect you. And that’s how it should be.
May Beth will be so disappointed when she knocks on my door and finds me gone, but I don’t think she’ll be surprised. Last thing she said to me, my face cupped firmly in her hands, was, Whatever you’re thinking, you get it out of that damned foolish head of yours right now. Except it’s not in my head, it’s in my heart, and she’s the same woman who told me if you’re going to follow anything, it might as well be that.
Even if it is a mess.
This story follows two people. The most important person is Sadie. 19 years old and on the hunt for the man who she knows killed her little sister.
Sadie is armed with nothing more than a knife, her stutter and the ability to survive just about anything.
We also follow West McCray who is using his podcast, The Girls, to follow the crumbs Sadie has left behind, to return her to the trailer she grew up in and May Beth, the woman who has done her best to help her. West is interviewing anyone who will talk and following any scrap of a lead to find Sadie.
But Sadie doesn’t want to be found and she sure as shit is going to finish what she set out to do; kill a man.
🔖 If you would like a free phone wallpaper created by yours truly, stay till the end of this post where you’ll find a link to download TWO!
Every little thing about you can be a weapon, if you’re clever enough.
Have I stolen your attention yet?
Good, because I promise to god it is impossible for this book to disappoint.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the rise of women fighting back at the men who seek to oppress them, we’ve watched as the #metoo movement rises. We’ve heard thousands of women raise their voices and scream their stories of abuse and trauma and violence and there is—and I cannot stress this enough—fucking nothing more powerful than a woman drenched in rightful anger.
No wait, there is, that’s a whole society of women sick of your fucking shit and standing tall when they say ‘I do not fucking accept this and I will change it, so help me god’.
Caddy tosses the cigarette on the pavement and grinds it out. “Didn’t your mama tell you about approaching dangerous men in the dark?”
“W-when I see a d-dangerous man, I’ll k-keep that in m-mind.”
With this flood of powerful women in real life, we’ve had a flood of powerful women in fiction.
Women around the world are taking their narratives back and telling their stories themselves because it’s pretty fucking clear we can’t trust men to do it for us, and they never deserved the right in the first place.
Nothing makes me happier than a bookshelf filled with strong, sharp, intelligent, soft, angry, happy, nasty, proud, empowered and powerful female characters. And that has become my reality in my own damn home and it makes me so happy.
There is no faster way to have me adding a book to my cart than the words powerful woman. Because that’s what we need, that’s what I want to see in my fiction, because fiction can and should reflect real life and my world is filled with these women and it’s truly brilliant.
I kept you alive for thirteen years.
Waking her up in the morning, making her meals, walking her to the school bus, waiting for her at its stop when the day was over, grinding my bones to dust just to keep us holding on and when I lay it out like that, I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know where, underneath it all, you’d find my body. And I don’t care. I’d do it all again and again for eternity if I had to.
I don’t know why that’s not enough to bring her back.
Sadie is an ugly book. It does not shy away from the dark. It embraces it.
It gives you an ‘unlikable’ woman, front and centre, and it shows you exactly why you should like her, not just in spite of that, but because of it.
Sadie’s whole world revolves around her sister Mattie the moment she is placed into her tiny arms. In that moment Sadie knows she would storm through hell if it meant protecting her baby sister.
But when Mattie goes missing thirteen years later and then her body is found, there is nothing keeping Sadie together anymore.
There isn’t a reason not to hunt down Mattie’s killer herself because she doesn’t have anything to lose, she already lost everything the second she lost Mattie.
I loved how well Summers captures the love Sadie has for Mattie, that even when Mattie is unkind and cruel, Sadie loves her the way their mother could never love either of them—unconditionally.
Sadie has survived a terrible loss, and with very little effort on my part, I dismissed it. Her. I wanted a story that felt fresh, new and exciting and what about a missing teenage girl was that?
We’ve heard this story before
Sadie’s story is told in such a careful and imaginative way, through alternating between Sadie’s chapters and West’s. But it’s more than that.
West’s chapters are the reason why this book is so popular in audiobook format and it’s easy to see why even while reading it as an ebook, like I did. You can bet your ass my first reread will be soon and through audiobook.
The great thing about West as a character is that he’s forced to see the ugly side of society and it changes his way of thinking, the way he views things like missing girls and I love that we got that character development.
While Sadie’s chapters follow her as she is relentless in her search.
She is fierce and unafraid and ready to take on the whole world to get justice for Mattie and to ensure what happened to Mattie, won’t happen again to another girl—at least not at the hands of the same man.
May Beth used to tell me it’s a sickness and made me tell Mattie the same thing, but I don’t believe it because people don’t choose to be sick, do they? Show a little compassion for your sister’s sake. Hate the sin, love the sinner. Like my junkie mother’s addiction was my personal failing because I couldn’t put my compassion ahead of all the ways she made me starve.
I want to make a note at how well this book deals with all of the topics it covers, from Sadie’s stutter to her mother’s addiction, generational trauma, the way society views men of god as unquestionably good, how hard it is to accept affection once you’ve been starved of it, and how poverty can affect a person for their whole life.
As someone who is both an addict and a person who has watched the people I care about be stolen by addiction as well, Summers does a wonderful job of portraying the difficulties of both sides of the narrative.
She shows how trauma can trickle down through a bloodline and rot a family from the inside. Because it only takes one person’s trauma not being healed or just not being worked on to make its way from one generation to the next.
And it’s fucking hard to be the one to try and end that trauma, to say ‘I’m not allowing this to go any further’. Sometimes it’s impossible.
We get to see how the lack of parental love and affection has scarred Sadie, how she never learned to let people in because letting her own mother in did nothing but hurt and the only person she loved was murdered. How even in the moment, when she wants nothing more than the connection found wrapped up in someone else, her reflex is to run.
Summers also captures the overwhelming fear that is present over your life the moment you dip a toe into poverty, it never really leaves. You can become rich overnight but poverty will still haunt you in your habits and fears—in the way you buy extra just in case, in the way you struggle to throw things out just in case.
There are very few authors I trust to be able to handle these topics well, but Courtney Summers is one of them.
My eyes burn, and tears slip down my cheeks and I can’t even imagine how pathetic I look. Girl with a busted face, torn-up arm, begging for the opportunity to save other girls. Why do I have to beg for that?
There is no way to truly capture my thoughts and feelings for this book, in all honesty. I know I say that often but Sadie is a special case.
This book will make you uncomfortable, it will make your heartbreak, your mind ache and your soul sink. It is breathlessly hopeful and suffocatingly real at the same time and I’m still trying to work out how the fuck Summers managed it.
I’ve only read one other book by Summers, All The Rage, and at the time I thought there was no way she could beat it.
And yet here we are, with this monstrous book and it is so fucking brilliant that I am in awe of Summers’s both logical and emotional intellect. I just want to spend the rest of my life listening to what she has to say.
I turn the switchblade one more time in my sweaty palm, feeling the weight of its neat black handle and the unforgiving blade tucked inside.
It was his, a long time ago.
It’s mine now.
I’m going to carve my name into his soul.
Where To Buy
*Taken from Goodreads.
**If you would like me to include links to purchase books from a specific store in my reviews please let me know!
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Grey Recommends – YA Trauma Narratives in Books
🍃 Bad Romance, contemporary fiction: Bad Romance is the story of Grace’s journey from one abusive situation to another and how she got the fuck out.
🍃 Girls of Paper and Fire, fantasy fiction: This book is about what happens when demons and humans occupy the same space. It’s about two girls who fall in love. It’s about a kingdom on the brink of war. It’s about rebellion.
🍃 Girl Made of Stars, contemporary fiction: Girl Made of Stars follows Mara as her friend Hannah accuses Mara’s twin brother of rape. Mara must discover the truth of what happened that night at the party while remembering what happened in a classroom years ago.
The audiobook was so good!
I reread it recently and god that book really was written for audiobook format, huh?
🔖 If you would like a FREE Phone Wallpaper that I created with quotes from this book you can find two here.
Have your read Sadie?
What’s your fave book with an ‘unlikable‘ female character?