[Content warning: This book has themes of sexual assault, violence, drug addiction, and child abuse.]
The synopsis for this book is spot on. Sadie is a book that will hold your attention until the last page and then leave you hanging onto Sadie and Mattie’s story, feeling completely wrecked.
Courtney Summers begins this book with a new and intriguing narrative style: the script of a radio talk show/podcast that is narrated by a man named West McCray, who is unraveling Sadie’s story after being called to search for her by her close friend, May Beth. As far as her neighbors know, Sadie has gone missing. But it is soon revealed to the reader that Sadie left town to find the man who she believes murdered her younger sister, Mattie.
As you can guess, things get intense. On her journey for revenge, Sadie faces threat after threat at nearly every turn. So many times I wished she could just let go of her need for revenge and just go home where she would be safe again with May Beth. But at the same time, I understood her anger and her need to find justice in a world that has betrayed her and her sister and refused them both the justice they deserve.
As West says, “Girls go missing all the time.” And that’s his excuse to avoid getting involved and searching for Sadie, but he soon realizes that the fact that girls go missing all the time shouldn’t be an excuse to do nothing but instead a reason to do something. That’s what this novel really is. It’s a call for action and attention for all the missing girls who have been forgotten about because girls go missing all the time.
Summers handles sensitive themes, like violence, child abuse, and sexual assault, with a frankness that is shocking but necessary. Many parts of this novel are difficult to read, and it will likely churn your stomach to know the details, but Sadie’s story is one that can’t be honestly told without the difficult details.
This book is a must read.
I’m not a frequent reader of mystery novels, but I do often read dark contemporary YA and this book happens to fall into both genres. And Sadie is so good that I think I’m going to take a broader leap into mystery YA in the future.
Want more of Sadie’s story? Check out the podcast and read an excerpt below!
[THE GIRLS THEME]
Welcome to Cold Creek, Colorado. Population: eight hundred.
Do a Google Image search and you’ll see its main street, the barely beating heart of that tiny world, and find every other building vacant or boarded up. Cold Creek’s luckiest—the gainfully employed—work at the local grocery store, the gas station and a few other staple businesses along the strip. The rest have to look a town or two over for opportunity for themselves and for their children; the closest schools are in Parkdale, forty minutes away. They take in students from three other towns.
Beyond its main street, Cold Creek arteries out into worn and chipped Monopoly houses that no longer have a place upon the board. From there lies a rural sort of wilderness. The highway out is interrupted by veins of dirt roads leading to nowhere as often as they lead to pockets of dilapidated houses or trailer parks in even worse shape. In the summertime, a food bus comes with free lunches for the kids until the school year resumes, guaranteeing at least two subsidized meals a day.
There’s a quiet to it that’s startling if you’ve lived your whole life in the city, like I have. Cold Creek is surrounded by a beautiful, uninterrupted expanse of land and sky that seem to go on forever. Its sunsets are spectacular; electric golds and oranges, pinks and purples, natural beauty unspoiled by the insult of skyscrapers. The sheer amount of space is humbling, almost divine. It’s hard to imagine feeling trapped here.
But most people here do.
COLD CREEK RESIDENT [FEMALE]:
You live in Cold Creek because you were born here and if you’re born here, you’re probably never getting out.
That’s not entirely true. There have been some success stories, college graduates who moved on and found well-paying jobs in distant cities, but they tend to be the exception and not the rule. Cold Creek is home to a quality of life we’re raised to aspire beyond, if we’re born privileged enough to have the choice.
Here, everyone’s working so hard to care for their families and keep their heads above water that, if they wasted time on the petty dramas, scandals and personal grudges that seem to define small towns in our nation’s imagination, they would not survive. That’s not to say there’s no drama, scandal, or grudge—just that those things are usually more than residents of Cold Creek can afford to care about.
Until it happened.
The husk of an abandoned, turn-of-the-century one-room schoolhouse sits three miles outside of town, taken by fire. The roof is caved in and what’s left of the walls are charred. It sits next to an apple orchard that’s slowly being reclaimed by the nature that surrounds it: young overgrowth, new trees, wildflowers.
There’s almost something romantic about it, something that feels like respite from the rest of the world. It’s the perfect place to be alone with your thoughts. At least it was, before.
May Beth Foster—who you’ll come to know as this series goes on—took me there herself. I asked to see it. She’s a plump, white, sixty-eight-year-old woman with salt-and-pepper hair. She has a grandmotherly way about her, right down to a voice that’s so invitingly familiar it warms you from the inside out. May Beth is manager of Sparkling River Estates trailer park, a lifelong resident of Cold Creek, and when she talks, people listen. More often than not, they accept whatever she says as the truth.
MAY BETH FOSTER:
Just about . . . here.
This is where they found the body.
911 DISPATCHER [PHONE]:
911 dispatch. What’s your emergency?
Leave your thoughts in the comments!