Book Review: Sadie
Summers, Courtney. Sadie. Wednesday Books, 2018.
Note: The following is a review of an advanced, uncorrected proof.
Although I am not much of a nonfiction reader, I love “true life” television—trashy reality shows, true crime podcasts, and documentaries, especially. That’s why Courtney Summers’ Sadie hooked me right away. Though the story is fiction, it is spliced with snippets from a This American Life-style podcast entitled The Girls. I’d never seen this particular format used in writing, so I was incredibly intrigued.
West McCray is the host of a podcast that focuses on small, unremarkable towns. During the taping of an episode, he hears about Mattie Southern, a thirteen-year-old girl found violently murdered beside the charred remains of a schoolhouse. His boss urges him to zero in on this case for a standalone podcast—not the murder of Mattie Southern, specifically, but the unsolved disappearance of her older sister Sadie. As McCray interviews family members and townspeople, he discovers that Mattie and Sadie’s case may be uglier than initially thought. Will he ever locate Sadie?
Meanwhile, readers follow Sadie as she leaves her home, purchases a car, and dyes her hair. As Sadie’s mother was addicted to drugs, taking care of Mattie was Sadie’s singular purpose in life. Now that Mattie has been taken from her, Sadie is set on revenge. Armed only with a stolen switchblade, Sadie begins a dangerous journey. Will she avenge her sister’s murder?
As I mentioned earlier, I’d never read a book written in this format. It’s a bit of a gamble, but I do believe it truly paid off for Summers. Background information that would have bogged down Sadie’s narration is relayed through the podcast in an exciting, investigative style. Sadie, too, was such an intriguing character. She reminded me of Katniss Everdeen with her physical toughness and protectiveness over her younger sister. There was never a moment in my reading that I was bored with the story—readers will be in suspense until the very last page.
Because Sadie is so novel, fresh, and exciting, I had only small, nitpicky criticisms. The end of the book feels a bit disjointed, but that was likely intentional. Readers should also be aware that this book deals heavily with sexual abuse, and these topics may be triggering for younger and older readers alike.