Alternating between a Serial-type podcast, researched and narrated by a man named West McCray, and Sadie’s perspective, this book is a gut-punching tour de force of modern-American noir.
By the time she is in her teens, and maybe even before, Sadie has accepted the fact that she is the sole person responsible for the care and upbringing of her little sister, Mattie.
Although at times infuriating, she does love Mattie with her whole heart and has done her best to provide her with a safe and constant environment. Their mother, a junkie whose biggest concern is what man she’ll be shacking up with next, never truly provided the care the girls needed.
Sadie has never felt loved by her mother and this lack of connection displays itself through her outlook on the world. Jaded and cynical, Sadie has good reason to be, her situation only made more difficult by the severe stutter that has plagued her since early childhood. Her stutter makes it challenging for her to express her feelings and she feels people judge and underestimate her because of it.
After her mother runs off, seemingly for good, Sadie’s fate is sealed. She is left to provide for Mattie around the clock. After a fight regarding their mother’s whereabouts, Mattie runs off one night, only to be discovered later, murdered.
Sadie, rocked by her loss and overcome with anger and despair, is determined to track down Mattie’s killer and bring him to justice. Her own. She knows who killed her and won’t rest until he pays.
As sad as this story is, it is boldly realistic and I respect the fact that Summers never shied away from tough, taboo topics. I am not going to go into them here, but if you are a sensitive reader, you may want to check other reviews for trigger warnings.
I listened to the audiobook for this, while also reading the hardcover version. The audiobook is definitely worth listening to. The podcast sections were particularly well done and listening to it enhanced my reading experience.
While I did enjoy this a lot, I wasn’t as blown away by it as others seemed to be. It was really well told and the topics were well handled. I just think the hype made me expect a little more. I read a lot of gritty, dark stories, so nothing about this surprised me or felt particularly groundbreaking besides the format.
Overall, the story is depressing but important and I would recommend it to anyone, particularly the audiobook.