Sadie — Courtney Summers

August 15, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers

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

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.


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.


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!




More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. Wonderful review!!!! I recently read this book too and it slayed me emotionally like I have never been before. It was sad & haunting and very true to life.

    1. Great review, Destiny!
      I’m so glad you enjoy it. I was left thinking about the ending as well. Especially since it does leave me with questions.

      1. Thank you, love! Yeah, it definitely leaves you wondering, right? It’s funny because open endings like that are very hit-and-miss for me, but I think it was executed so well in Sadie.

    1. I love your review! I finished SADIE a couple days ago and you are definitely right. It’s one of those books that leaves a mark on you; it was astonishingly beautiful and devastating.

    1. Great review! I’m glad you loved it! 🙂 That ending really bothered me for a bit but it was done so well I can’t really complain anymore lol!

    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.

    1. This normally didn’t the type of book I read, but I got an ARC, so I’m excited to dive it since it’s gotten so many rave reviews already! 🙂

      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!

        1. Quiet mystery is more appealing to me than thriller, so… We’ll see! I’m going to try real hard to read it before its release but… Hehe…

    1. 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.

      1. Thank you!! <3 I feel bad because I know I don't remember them on every single review, but I definitely try extra hard to include them for heavy hitters like this one! I hope you enjoy it, but take care of yourself ♥♥

      1. Thank you, Shannon! Sadie herself was definitely my favorite. She is just so strong and even though I thankfully have never had to live a life nearly as hard as hers, there was something in her that really resonated with me.

    1. Oh my gosh, this is such a wonderful and detailed review! Sadie sounds like such an emotional and heart-wrenching book. I’m so excited to read it, and I’m so glad that you enjoyed it and that it had such an impact on you. ❤️

    1. Thank you for this awesome, heartfelt review, Destiny! <3 I've been wondering if I should request the ARC or not, but now I'm definitely doing it. Even though we're super close to the release date and I'm behind on ARCs… 😛

      1. Thank you, Kathy! Lol, you sound like how I am sometimes. “I know this is ALMOST out… and I really need to work on other stuff… but… oh what the hell” *request* lmao!

    1. I love your review! You highlighted so many passages from the book that struck me while reading but I completely forgot to annotate… I need to re-read this book at some point this year (or next year) because it’s just that good.

      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!

    1. 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~!

      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! <3

        1. That’s so cool wow!!!! Never heard of that for a book before that’s really unique – I’ll have to keep an eye out for those podcasts! 🙂

    1. This is such a great review and it sounds like a powerful book! I definitely need to get my hands on it!

    1. I desperately need to read this soon! I got emotional just reading your review and the quotes you included. Brilliant review Destiny!

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