SADIE | Courtney Summers
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
“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.”
The cover of Sadie was one of my favorite covers of 2018 AND the book itself was also one of my favorite reads of 2018. Summers demands your silence as an audience and only asks that you listen.
This story could easily be adapted into an indie film with limited to no score decorating the background. There is much to see and feel in the heavy quiet that blankets the events of this book.
From start to finish, Sadie is the pure essence of raw and grit. You experience this especially from Sadie’s point of view, which is heartbreaking and writhing in grim determination and fierce emotion.
The construction of the book is artful as it fully utilizes the varying storytelling avenues presented by a podcast format and the quintessential efficacy of a straightforward, first-person narrative. Together, those two structures add multi-dimensionality to the overall plot.
Not only do we hear Sadie’s voice, but also the voices of those who wonder after Sadie and her story that she tells to us and only us as the audience. Also, because of the format, the chronology of events isn’t so simple. There are loops and roundabouts that add to the mystery.
Sadie is an incredibly likable and sympathetic character. We feel her pain, determination, and desperation to seek retribution. While we can’t condone her behaviors, we also can’t ignore the reason behind them. Her journey is frightening and intense, and as a reader, it’s easy to get sucked in and feel as she feels.
The ending is ambiguous and tragic and not at all what I expected. The author’s choice to end the story on an implication encourages the dark believability of events. As a whole, Sadie inspires discussion of home life and the lasting marks of one’s upbringing, but also the often horrible consequences of abuse.
This is not a happy book and it was never meant to be. It is striking, familiar, and enraging in its plausibility and that’s why it’ll stick with me for some time.