Part mystery, part revenge story, this thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Sadie by Courtney Summers is the story of a young girl who sets out to find her sister’s killer and a journalist picking up the clues she leaves behind. Summers’ book has been nominated for several awards, including a Goodreads Choice Award nomination for Young Adult Fiction and a Lincoln Award nomination.
Jumping between two narratives, the book opens with the first episode of a podcast about a missing girl who’s sister was recently murdered. West McCray, the journalist creator of the podcast, begins interviewing those who knew Sadie, the missing girl.
The story then switches to Sadie’s perspective, which begins several months before the podcast’s first airing. Sadie is following the only clue she has to the whereabouts of Keith, the man who she knows is responsible for her sister’s murder. Sadie is determined to hunt him down and make him pay for what he did to her sister, leaving behind her life in pursuit of him.
Will Sadie find Keith? And if she does, will she be able to kill him like she vows she will? And will West McCray be able to connect the dots and find out what happened to Sadie?
This was a deeply engrossing book. I fell into the story immediately and couldn’t put it down. I loved how the story unfolded in two parts and not simultaneously. Sadie’s perspective is from before, we see her journey unfolding just ahead of when McCray discovers another clue about where Sadie went and what she did there.
This story opens up bit by bit, peeling back one heartbreaking layer after another. Sadie is the focus of the story and her character is so well drawn. I can see her as a real person in the world. I like seeing this portrait of her being built not just from the interviews that West pulls together from the people who knew her or crossed paths with her but also from Sadie herself. I particularly liked how Summers handled Sadie’s stutter. Sadie is an empowered person despite her stutter, and her thoughts and feelings about how people react to and treat her is very eye-opening. Sadie is not portrayed as a victim because of her stutter.
The podcast side of the story provides insight into Sadie’s life from so many outside perspectives. You get a real sense of her home life, her relationship with her sister and her mother, and what Sadie’s childhood was like. It really gives you a solid base for Sadie’s past in an organic, natural way, while reading from Sadie’s perspective is then brought into sharp relief by this learned knowledge about her. You see why she reacts the way she does and why she guards herself. Overall, it’s just a really smart storytelling move and makes the story so real and convincing.
Literary Value: 4/5
I have not read any of Summers’ other books, but I will now because I felt that her storytelling abilities were so amazing in this book. The story is so well crafted, the characters are so real and their actions and emotions are so believable. What truly impressed me the most was that not for one second while reading this book did I get pulled out of the story for one reason or another. At no point did the story feel contrived or cliched. It felt like someone’s real life and I think that’s what really sells this book, for me.
A quick side note: I listened to the audiobook of this story (which has a full cast), and it was so incredibly well done. But half the reason it feels so real is because the people who are narrating it are reading lines that sound like how people talk. It lends credibility to the characters. I particularly think the woman who read for Sadie did a fantastic job of navigating having a stutter.
Entertainment Factor: 4/5
Like I said earlier – I was invested right away in this story. I didn’t feel the novel slowed down too much or dragged anywhere, and I don’t think it went too fast either. The jumping back and forth between Sadie’s story and West McCray’s interviewing made the story come together piece by piece that kept it tantalizing and yet didn’t keep anything from being withheld for too long. I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I was a bit unsatisfied with the ending, but that’s mostly from my own personal dislike for that type of ending (I don’t want to be too specific here, to avoid spoilers), but despite that, I still rate this story high.
Cover Art Rating: 5/5
This cover is gorgeous, by the way! It’s minimalistic (yes!), it’s a hand drawing (yes!!) and the face is obscured (yes!!!). It hits all the marks for me and I think it really sells the mysterious aspect of the story. Who is Sadie? What is her story? This cover invites you in to find out. You look at it and you are just itching to know more. I think that’s what makes this cover so good.
I particularly like the font and how “Sadie” is slightly askew, like the letters are barely held together. It’s kind of ethereal and it hints at movement, just like Sadie’s hair does, too, with it wispy and blowing across her face. It’s a very active cover, yet it feels very quiet and still at the same time. Juxtaposition – I love it!
Overall Rating: 4.25/5
A well-framed, realistic story that paints a portrait of a girl who wants justice for the wrongs that have been done to her family and others. Sadie is a flawed heroine, but she’s such a strong person. Her narrative is compelling, real, and believable and I think speaks to many. Her story is so personal, yet we hear it not just from her but very impersonally from the interviews of others. We get to see how her life ends up touching other lives and that her decisions send ripples that change the course of other lives.
It’s a strong story, and also heartbreakingly sad, but I am glad I read this book. I think a well written story is worth getting through the heartache it might contain, as with this story. I really recommend it, especially the audio version, because it is so well done. If you like realistic fiction, especially mysteries, this is a pretty good choice.
Have you read anything else by Summers? What did you think? If you’ve read Sadie, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it! Let’s chat in the comments!
Thanks for reading!