“I always forget fear is a conquerable thing but I learn it over and over again and that, I guess, is better than never learning it.”
A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.
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.
Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.
TW: addiction, murder, sibling death, attempted sexual assault, pedophilia, child abuse, PTSD, parental death, parental neglect, underage drinking and drug use, smoking
Even with some time behind me since finishing this, I’m still not totally sure how to articulate how I feel about this book. In most circumstances, I’d be shouting about it from the rooftops, all caps and the like just filling the post. But this isn’t a book for shouting.
This is more a book for a sort of awed, horrified silence.
For one, the TW list I’ve provided is not messing around at all. The topics of pedophilia and drug use/addiction are dealt with in depth, and while you spend the book absolutely rooting for Sadie and fascinated with the direction the podcast style sections take (which was, honestly, a genius formatting choice to compliment the prose sections from Sadie’s POV), you also spend so much time absolutely revolted by the antagonists of the book. For such a short book, it’s incredibly intense, incredibly heavy, and I’m still reeling in many ways. By and large, it’s not a book for anyone who’s easily triggered by anything in the list above unless you’re feeling steely and ready to tackle it. And even if the TWs don’t normally bother you, I’d recommend a little caution. Basically, go in knowing that this is a heavy book, heavier than many I’ve read, with the strain of also being a thriller that leaves you worried for Sadie’s fate on every page.
I’d also like to mention that Sadie is (by my reading, based on a scene towards the middle of the book) bi, and that West, the man who hosts the podcast that intersperses the book, is married to another man. Their queerness isn’t a focal point of the story, and particularly for Sadie, there’s no celebration of identity or happy ending, but I actually liked that it was handled so casually. I think if it had been focused on any more than it briefly was, it would have been at odds with the rest of the topics in the book, and too much at once to address.
My only disappointment with the book is that there has to be more of the story, and yet because of the set-up, it’s more effective not to tell it. The writer in me is so pleased with the use of open-ended plot points, and the reader in me is pulling her hair out and demanding more. It’s conflicting to be both of those things at once, and it’s the only thing that really frustrated me. But on the whole, I was so completely impressed by Sadie that I suspect I’ll reread it soon.
And I’ve heard that the audiobook is incredible, since it meshes well with the podcast format in the books. I can’t vouch for the audiobook personally, since I read it in hardcover, but for those of you thinking you might read Sadie some time soon, it’s an option that seems to be well worth pursuing.
On the whole, though, I can’t stress this enough: if you’re able to read Sadie, do it. It’s phenomenal and intense and has earned its place on my favorites shelf, a thing that takes some effort to do, particularly for standalones. Every page is worth the time.
Have you already read Sadie? Are you planning to? Either way, we should definitely chat, because this is a book that should be talked about.