Sadie — Courtney Summers

Sadie by Courtney Summers

TITLE: Sadie
AUTHOR: Courtney Summers
RELEASES: September 4th, 2018; Wednesday Books
GENRE: Mystery/Thriller
AGE RANGE: YA

SYNOPSIS: 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.

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At the time I’m writing this review, it’s been a couple of days since I finished Sadie, and I still haven’t fully processed it. This is one of those stories that seeps into your bones somewhere along the way, and it changes the way you look at the world a little. It is the best mystery—and one of the best books, period—that I have ever read, and it is also one of the bleakest, most devastating reading experiences of my life.

And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.

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You know, going into this story, that Sadie’s little sister’s body has just been found, and Sadie is on a mission to track down the man she believes is responsible. Besides the fact that it’s a story partially told through podcast episodes (which is such an incredible touch), that’s all you really need to know. This isn’t about what happens so much as it is about coming to know and love Sadie—and to know and love Mattie, too, through her memories. It’s about recognizing that the society we live in has this terrifying, grimy layer that nobody wants to talk about, where little girls are never really safe, and children are forced to grow up way too fast, to become adults in replacement of the parents they didn’t ask for.

Imagine having to live every day knowing the person who killed your sister is breathing the air she can’t, filling his lungs with it, tasting its sweetness. Imagine him knowing the steady weight of the earth under his feet while her body is buried six feet below it.

With a mother suffering from addiction, a community that looked the other way far too many times, and a life of barely keeping food on the table, much less having any real opportunities to succeed, Sadie feels like such an old soul. I don’t know how many readers will struggle to relate to the age of her inner monologue, but from another woman whose circumstances never quite allowed me to feel like a child, I saw so much of myself in the cynical, pragmatic way Sadie views the world around her.

I realized pretty early on that the who didn’t really matter so much. That anybody who listens to me, I end up loving them just a little.

It’s hard enough to grow up poor and in a broken family, but Sadie’s also queer—she doesn’t label herself, but explains her sexuality in ways that heavily point to pansexuality—and she stutters, which forms a barricade between her and the rest of the world. Her representation feels so valid and genuine, and it broke my heart every time she mused about how imprisoned she felt by her struggles with speech.

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.

More than anything else about Sadie’s character, though, I loved the fierce, maternal determination she has for taking care of Mattie—and, once Mattie is gone, for finding her killer and dishing out justice. Every memory of Mattie, whether told through her view of their adopted grandmother May Beth’s, is beautiful and haunting. The tremendous amount of guilt that Sadie carries as she blames herself for what went wrong had me completely breaking down in passages, and I’ll admit without shame that I read the last several chapters through tears. The most brutal part of it all is that, somehow, it feels like Sadie’s story could be based on a real girl—no, on countless real girls, all over the world.

I have never been kissed the way I want to be kissed and I have never been touched the way I want to be touched.

Without spoiling the plot, I want to warn you that this book focuses heavily on child abuse and sexual assault, and it is broken down in the most honest, agonizing ways. There’s also a solid portrayal of how deceptive abusers can be, as the abusers in question are shown to have fooled so many people. But there’s also another side to the representation here, as we see Sadie’s intense solidarity with other abused girls, and her desperate need to protect and defend them, even though (perhaps especially though) she feels that she failed to protect and defend her sister.

It’s about the lengths we go to protect the ones we love… and the high price we pay when we can’t.

There’s not much else I can tell you now, because I think it’s the kind of story that you should go into without too many expectations. Just climb in, let Sadie take you for a ride and tell you her story, and try not to let your heart get too broken in the process. This is a phenomenal story, and I know that I will be thinking about it for a long, long time to come.

Content warnings for child abuse, sexual assault, drug addiction, addiction-shaming, PTSD, violence, child abduction, child death

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Just a 26-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

49 thoughts on “Sadie — Courtney Summers

  1. Great review! I love how detailed your reviews are without giving too much of the plot away, other than what’s already known from the synopsis. I’ve not read it but I think it’s definitely one for the TBR when it comes out.

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    1. You know, it’s funny that you say that because I kept seeing it and passing it by for MONTHS because I thought it wasn’t the kind of thing I’d read, too! I mean, I typically like thrillers, but this seemed more like a quiet mystery, and I don’t read those as often. I’m so glad that I did, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful review, as always! Thank you so much for including the trigger warnings. I’m so excited for this particular release but hadn’t heard about any of the triggers. I’ll definitely still be reading though.

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    1. Thank you! I feel like I would annotate even more whenever I reread it because there was so much foreshadowing in the podcast bits. I want to get a finished copy when it releases, and I definitely think this is one of those rare mysteries that I would read over and over despite knowing how it ends now!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like such a powerful story – your review makes me more eager to read this. It sounds intense but like its an important story to be told – and the podcast aspect is so unique! Very curious about that! Fantastic review~!

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    1. It DEFINITELY is intense, but so good. I am told that the podcast chapters are being released as actual podcasts so that people will be able to listen along (for free) as they read the finished copy, which is probably one of THE coolest things I’ve ever heard of lol. Thank you! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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