Author: Courtney Summers
Narrated by a Full Cast
Published by Macmillan Audio
Category: Young Adult, Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Family, Social, Audiobook, Review
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.
Since their addict mother Claire left, Sadie has been trying her best to raise Mattie, the little sister she loves dearly. Sadie and her mother have always had a volatile relationship, not helped by the severe stutter that’s afflicted her since childhood and her mother’s many live in boyfriends.
Sadie has never felt her mother’s love in the way Mattie does and that, along with the way they live, colours her attitude to life in general.
Mattie keenly feels their mother’s absence and disappears after a heated argument with her sister. Sadie is devastated when Mattie’s body is found when someone reports a fire, and soon afterwards walks away from her life. She is on a mission and won’t rest until she finds Mattie’s killer.
May Beth Foster, the girls’ surrogate grandmother, contacts West McCray, a radio personality, for help as a last resort after a car is found with Sadie’s belongings inside. The police class her as a runaway and take the case no further.
A year later, I was sitting in my office in New York. It was October, a year to the day Mattie died, actually, the third—and my attention kept wandering from my computer screen to the window, where I could see the Empire State Building. I liked my job at WNRK, and I liked my life in the city, but maybe some part of me—the same part that let me walk away from Mattie’s story the first time without a second thought—was overdue for a shake-up.
It arrived in the form of a phone call.
Finding Sadie becomes West’s obsession and the story is told alternately from Sadie’s perspective and podcasts narrated by West titled ‘The Girls’, as he follows Sadie’s trail across the country. I listened to the full cast Audible edition and the podcast approach works extremely well for the audio format, building tension and giving another insight into Sadie’s life and character from other points of view. Sadie’s sad story and intense narrative, alternating with the almost dispassionate podcast episodes, gives a rounded picture of unfolding events.
Sadie’s journey is raw and quite brutal. Her pain is apparent and impacts hugely on her. She takes risks, recklessly regardless of her own safety, determined to hunt down Mattie’s killer. Sadie’s world has crumbled around her and she feels she has lost everything that matters. Revenge is the only thing keeping her going, driving her forward.
This is dark, tragic and emotional, covering several serious and unfortunately relevant themes, showing how appalling cruelty and deviousness can lie hidden behind the facade of normalcy and success. I thought Courtney Summers handled it all very well, sensitively and without lots of unnecessarily gruesome details. A realistic, haunting and gritty story, compellingly written and narrated. It struck me as a poignant touch that the face of the girl on the cover is left blank, mirroring the probably countless number of girls that go missing.