A missing girl on a journey of revenge and a Serial-like podcast following the clues she’s left behind.
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 is set for publication on 14 September, 2018.
— TW: pedophilia, child abuse, sexual assault, violence, potential eating disorder, descriptions of blood, mentions of substance abuse —
“It all suddenly, and belatedly, felt too real, the things these girls had gone through, what can happen to missing girls.”
Thank you very much to Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press) for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Sadie by Courtney Summers is a book that will tear you heart out and leave you emotionally wrenched. Reading it hurt and I so often wanted to shut off my Kindle and put the book as far from me as possible, but it’s also story you can’t look away from because it’s so devastatingly real. While I highly recommend this novel, please be advised it deals with very heavy content and anyone who is triggered by the warnings posted above, should be careful when reading Sadie.
I was originally intrigued by Sadie because of my love of podcasts, specifically true crime podcasts. Sadie is loosely inspired by the format of Serial — a true crime podcast that follows a woman named Sarah Koenig as she goes delves through the evidence of a nineteen-year-old murder to find out if a boy really did kill his ex-girlfriend — and I knew I just had to read the book. (Insert shameless self-promotion here: please check out a post I recently wrote featuring podcast recommendations! — honestly, what a coincidence.)
Sadie is told from the perspective of two narrators: Sadie, who, a year after her sister’s murder, disappears to hunt down her killer; and West McCray, a radio personality, who traces Sadie’s footsteps months after she disappears, creating a podcast of his investigation and eventual findings. The alternating perspectives was executed perfectly — through Sadie’s chapters we get a first-hand look into her revenge-fuelled road trip, while through West’s podcast we learn more about Sadie’s past and relationship with her sister from many outsiders’ perspectives.
While Sadie tackles a whole host of important issues, it’s ultimately a story about a sister’s love and the lengths she’d go to avenge her sister. Sadie is not a bad person, or an anti-hero or a villain. She knows that what she’s doing is not necessarily the right thing — attempting to kill someone — but she doesn’t care. She knows who killed her sister and rather than inform the police, she decides to take matters into her own hands. But Sadie’s still a teenager, and no matter that her revenge is motivated by the death of her beloved sister, she struggles a lot with the idea of taking someone’s life.
Sadie also has a severe stutter, and you can feel her frustration at her inability to communicate something. She doesn’t feel any shame about her stutter, and she often criticises the people who make her feel as though she should be ashamed. Sadie is such a powerful character, and she’s someone that I look up to. She dropped out of school at the age of sixteen to care for her sister, Mattie, after their mother abandoned them; she struggled to find work and money to put food on their table; and she’s stuck in a dead-end town with no future prospects — because her whole being, her whole existence, is wrapped around Mattie.
I did struggle to like West at the beginning because, for so long, he feels like someone taking advantage of Sadie’s tragedy to garner popularity for his podcast. While Sadie promotes many messages, one of the most important is that it shows an indelible truth about society: that many men only ever seem realise women are human beings — that we are worth something, that we don’t deserve to be raped or murdered because we dare say ‘no’ to a man — when they have a daughter of their own. But, as the novel progresses, you can feel him begin to care — or has he always? — about Sadie at the thousands of stories just like hers and her sister’s.
The ending of Sadie will be definitely be divisive: some people will love it because it’s so realistic, but many others will be frustrated by it. While I can see both sides, I do fall on the side of ‘holy crap, that was an amazing ending’. Because, ultimately, it’s realistic. It shows what always happens when you listen to a true crime podcast. It’s sad … but it will pack a punch, and Sadie won’t be a book you’ll be forgetting anytime soon.