Saturday, September 8, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers

I am thrilled to be helping to wrap up the Canadian blog tour of Courtney Summers' Sadie. Raincoast Books put together an amazing tour to celebrate this incredible read and  I urge you to visit the other stops on this tour. 

I was given the opportunity to ask Courtney Summers one question and could not resist the chance to get some podcast recommendations from her. 

Me: This book has a podcast as a central part of its narrative. What are some of your favourite podcasts to listen to?

Courtney: I love Criminal, Sarah Enni’s First Draft Podcast, One True Pairing, S-Town and You Must Remember This, to name a few!

I am intrigued by quite a few of these and am excited to check some of them out! A huge thank you to Courtney for taking the time to answer all of the questions  that were part of this blog tour.

Sadie by Courtney Summers
Release Date - September 4, 2018
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  311 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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 meagre 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.
True crime as a genre of media is experiencing a surge in popularity in our current culture. There are podcasts, movies, television shows, and books that are all consumed by people who are interested in true crime for various reasons. Courtney Summers newest book looks to both ignite discussion about the way in which we consume this genre and offers up a gripping story in the process.

The story starts with something all too familiar - a dead girl. A dead, pretty, and blonde dead girl. The book immediately makes us think about why certain victims capture public interest compared to others, and the almost obsession there is with young, pretty girls who meet a horrible, tragic ending at all too young an age. It also makes us question why they fade from memory just as quickly as they entered once a face is put to the perpetrator. The sad reality is that a majority of people could easily list a dozen serial killers without too much difficulty but would be unable to name twelve victims. Once it is solved the victim almost becomes secondary.

This book makes you examine the ways in which we consume these stories. There is a line about how the grisly details of what happened to Mattie will not be shared because they are not there for our entertainment. It is a jarring, almost a slap in the face, line that deeply resonated with me when I read it. The fact is that plenty of true crime media is offered as entertainment and is consumed as such. The stark reality of this not jut being a story is sometimes lost in the desire to dissect and find out the why.

The book also shines a spotlight on the way in which the focus shifts away from the grieving family left behind. The trauma and hurt that they will have to process and deal with long after the story is splashed across headlines and slowly fades from the news. The 'after' is not something that those on the outside linger on. The lives irrevocably changed by these horrific acts are put in the periphery. This book made me think of why this happens. We keep it at arms length because we can. We can remove ourselves from it and make the families of the higher profile cases relive it as new media is released for 'anniversaries'. It begs us to remember that behind the piece of media we are consuming is an all too crushing reality for someone and a person whose life was ended all too soon.

There are two distinctive narration styles within the book. Each of them compliments and builds off the other. They are dependent on each other in order to tell the whole story. The podcast half of the story is seamlessly woven into the overall arc and is used to flesh out things the reader already knows in a lot of ways. The other half that is Sadie's narration is biting and just as heart crushing as you might expect. Courtney Summers knows how to write fierce, complex, and damaged girls and Sadie is a masterpiece. She's memorable in so many ways, as is her story.

West, the radio personality who attempts to track down Sadie as part of a story, is sort of a stand in for the reader while still being a fully developed character. We see his perspective shift as he gets deeper and deeper into tracking Sadie's footsteps. It becomes more than a story for him by the end of the book and that is what I think Courtney Summers is trying to relay. These are more than just stories and they should impact us as such.

Stories that offer only a glimpse into the lives of the characters we're following can sometimes be frustrating. Those who need everything wrapped in a tidy bow may be frustrated by any of Courtney Summers' books and Sadie is no exception. We get to experience the journey these characters are on but that doesn't mean we own it. We don't necessarily get everything. This works with what I believe the overall message of the book is and just adds to the overall impact of the novel. It's an ending that resonates emotionally and is satisfying even as it is frustrating. This isn't a story meant for happily ever afters and the ending perfect reflects that.

Sadie is the kind of story that gut punches you and demands to be thought about long after you've finished reading it. It has the power to shift the way we think of  how we interact with the media we consume. It's a harrowing story of love and what loss can drive someone to. It's also a incredibly well written book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It'll easily be one of my top reads of the year and I urge you all to run out and buy a copy. I cannot wait for the discussions it sparks.

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