Devious, heart-wrenching, and real, Courtney Summers’ SADIE is a murder mystery and a frantic search wrapped in a true crime podcast.
Thirteen-year-old Mattie Southern is dead. She was tortured and murdered, left in an apple orchard in her rickety, impoverished hometown of Cold Creek, Colorado. Months later, her older sister and mother figure for the past three years, Sadie, goes missing. She has a plan: To find the person responsible for Mattie’s death… and kill him herself. Sadie is labeled as just another runaway, but when her car turns up abandoned on the other side of the state, the story catches the eye of investigative reporter West McCray. So begins “The Girls,” West’s podcast series that examines the broken Southern family, searches for answers on Mattie’s murder, and tries to find Sadie before it’s too late to save her.
Told through alternating sections of West’s podcast and the title character’s personal narration, Sadie dives deep into the effects of poverty, abuse, and addiction on children, twisting into a tale of responsibility and revenge. With carefully mapped little cliffhangers between the two types of storytelling, each chapter makes you desperately wonder what will happen next– what Sadie will find about the figure from the past she’s after, what West will find out about Sadie. The mystery holds up from start to finish.
Along the way, the novel slashes at the blinders more privileged members of society wear to tell a story of those left behind– the children that society gave up on before they had a chance to come into their own, the teens labeled runaways and brushed aside. Facing the underbelly of it all will leave your soul leaden at times, but this novel is an important, albeit uncomfortable, read.
Sadie is a remarkable narrator– a girl who never had anything to begin with, besides her baby sister, and thus feels she has nothing to lose. Her journey is gripping and nearly unputdownable despite its terrors. Every time a new layer was peeled back, I was sucked deeper into her story and even as I imagine different outcomes, Courtney Summers kept me surprised and feeling the full gamut of emotions for the MC. West is the rest of us– comfortable in life, largely naive to what kids like Sadie and Mattie go through. We see his doubts, his reluctance, and the shock of his discoveries as the truth finally unravels.
Hard-hitting and shockingly truthful, Sadie took me on a journey. It left me with a book hangover and lots of feelings to unravel, but that’s exactly what this type of story SHOULD do. Courtney Summers executed this tale of love, loss, and everything in between with skill and tact, and the result is achingly good.
RATING: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS
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 meagre 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.