Author: Emily Murdoch.
Published: March 26th 2013.
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
There are some things you can’t leave behind…A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys. Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
Carey and Nessa (short for Jenessa) were kidnapped by their ‘mother’ years ago. She has been gone for a while now and the girls are running out of food, until their father finds them. They are taken away from the only home they remember and they have to adjust to a complete new world: food, clothes, school. It’s especially hard for Carey, who took the role of mother for her silent sister. She is suddenly just her sister, but she has to watch Nessa close. The girl is starting to talk and Carey is afraid she might tell them their greatest secret. A secret which might risk Carey’s new life with her father, his new wife and their stepdaughter Delaney.
This book felt very realistic. Carey sometimes longs for her simple life with just Nessa; the only life she has ever know. It’s hard for her to adjust, but she will do anything to keep Nessa safe and happy. I liked the way she remembers the good side of their past, because that life made her this awesome character. I understand that it’s hard to let go and I love how Murdoch portrayed her struggle.
Carey is so loving and sweet for Nessa. Their relationship is one of the best aspects of this book. These girls have suffered so much in their lives, but they grew up to be admirable characters. Their bond is strong and one of the best I’ve seen in a while. It’s unbelievable that Carey is only fifteen years, because it was easy to connect with her. My heart broke when I saw the way her ‘mother’ treated her and the things she had to deal with. Nessa is cute and I was happy with the way she developed under her father’s care.
The side characters were perfectly described as well. Melissa is amazing: she took Nessa and Carey under her wings like they are her own blood and she understands them. I had a hard time with Delaney, but I started to warm up for her. After a while I started to understand that it must be difficult for her too. Their father is a bit underdeveloped, but it’s clear that he loves his daughters and he will do anything to make them happy.
The writing-style is great. Carey talks with an accent and that was subtle interwoven. It never bothered me and it felt very natural. The descriptions were good and some situations gave me tears. That doesn’t happen very often, so it’s a sign that her writing worked for me. The ending was a bit abrupt for my taste. I wasn’t ready to part with Carey and Nessa yet.