Content/Trigger Warnings: Pedophilia, loss of a loved one, death, talk of murder, bullying, assault, sexual assault, extreme parental abandonment and neglect, talk of suicide, drug use/drug addiction, underage drinking, grief, cheating, toxic relationships, graphic violence, and more!
“But love is complicated, it’s messy. It can inspire selflessness, selfishness, our greatest accomplishments and our hardest mistakes. It brings us together and it can just as easily drive us apart.”
Dearest readers, my heart is heavy, broken, and in complete awe. It has taken me a great length of time to finally… finally write this review. Sadie is worth every ounce of praise it receives. I truly wish I had invested in the audiobook because I can only imagine how chilling and heartbreaking this book would sound from the vocals of another person reading it. I didn’t know how I was going to feel going into this book and now that I’ve read it… I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. This book tackles so many rough topics and even though this book is dark and steals my breath, I will forever recommend this book. And the thing is, books have a way of coming in our life to remind us of the things we’ve overcome and the scars of our survival. I will never forget Sadie and her story, and I will never stop telling mine to those who will listen.
The story of Sadie is told in two alternating formats between a podcast and Sadie. Sadie is nineteen-years-old and walks a dark path to murder the person who she thinks took the life of her thirteen-year-old sister, Mattie. However, the podcast takes place five months behind the steps of Sadie and West McCray is trying hard to catch up. But between these alternating chapters, they come together to paint a bigger, beautifully dark, and sorrowful story. And please keep this in mind, though I have listed the content and trigger warnings, this book holds a lot of dark themes and any reader should use caution while reading this book. Please make sure you’re in the right head space and use practice self-care while reading this book.
“That’s a real tragedy and I mean it. It’s sad when people don’t realize their worth”
Throughout this story, we receive so many bits and pieces. It’s a little trail of bread crumbs that lead us to the final outcome of Sadie’s journey. And the entire time, we as the readers, are kept wondering and guessing what will happen next, what will be the final outcome. Taking these parts and then adding the podcast element where more information gets revealed that we never got to discover in Sadie’s perspective, the author created a masterpiece. Everything became woven together so incredibly well and I truly became invested in the story as a whole. To be honest, I kind of wished I had experienced this through audiobook because the podcast would throw me off at times and it was a bit tougher to process while reading especially since in some parts we get multiple people talking and different things happening in the background.
I want to take a moment to truly address a big concept that many people still can’t seem to grasp even nowadays. For whatever reason it’s incredible hard for people to understand that pedophiles and rapists can be outstanding people in our community, kind, the top of their class, successful, and they can even be someone who is very close to you. But these traits do not change the fact that they are rapists or pedophiles. And I’m about to get super emotional, super heavy, and voice a bit of my own story. I grew up being taught that when someone committed an act of harm and trauma to my body, I had to stay silent. That if anyone found out that I would be shunned or it would make me worthless. It’s incredibly terrible. The amount of shame that I felt as a thirteen year-old girl and being told by the people around me, “No one can know. It’s our little secret.” It was the most suffocating, most painful, and one of the most damaging experiences I ever went through. And we live in a society where we are still teaching our children that when these things happen to them to stay silent and that it’s something to be immensely ashamed of. Our system is so broken that rapists and pedophiles can keep committing these acts over and over, and no one wants to hear or believe the voices of the victims especially if they’re poor or uneducated. When I was raped for the first time, I remember having a friend drive me to the hospital late at night and I remember both the doctor and the police officer actually cracked a joke and told me straight to my face, “You should feel lucky that someone would even want to touch your body in a sexual way.” Hearing words like that coming from the people who are supposed to protect the victims and make them feel safe, make them feel like they can talk about what happened to them… it shatters the soul and it takes away their voices. And Courtney Summers does an outstanding job really showing that point throughout that book. The worst part is it takes a book to say to the entire world to start listening to your victims because our world would rather listen to the ones who can throw around the most money and power.
Never in my dreams did I believe I would read a book about a girl taking matters into her own hands where justice fails. To read about a nineteen-year-old girl reclaiming her own power, her body, her heart, her soul, and along with actually succeeding in getting her vengeance. It is one of the most powerful and liberating things I have read in a long time. It’s truly a remarkable journey and one of the best experiences I have had with a dark book.
“My eyes are wide and wild and I can’t see beyond them. I can only see what they’ve seen.”
The representation in this book is also incredible. Our main character, Sadie, has a severe stutter. Throughout this book we learn how Sadie has always lived with the stutter and how the stutter isn’t always a constant. I knew going into this book our main character had a stutter, but this is my first time ever seeing that representation in a book. It was so beautifully heartbreaking because we see Sadie struggle to voice her words when she’s feeling extreme anger or sadness and its one of the most gut-wrenching things to read about. There’s also a few brief times in this book where Sadie has some intimate moments. One with a side character named Javi and another side character named Cat. If there’s anything you can take away from those moments, Sadie is definitely not straight. She’s either bisexual or pansexual. It’s never truly stated, but it’s very easy to pick up the those vibes in those moments. And finally, Sadie as a whole delivers some of the strongest poverty representation. In today’s written work, that representation is incredibly hard to come across and I think I’ve only encountered it twice before reading this book.
And finally I can talk about the family dynamic in this book. There is such a strong presence of ‘the single mother with kids’ representation in this book and my heart was so full reading that. While I wish it could have been under less darker circumstances, as someone who comes from a single parent home, it made me really soft and sappy because that’s something I’m still not used to seeing in books. Obviously, I loved how Sadie feels about Mattie all throughout this book. My brother and I are vastly different in age and so reading about a main character with an age gap with their sibling and they’ve also undergone abuse, I was shattering into a million pieces. The unconditional love Sadie gives to Mattie though is so pure and seeing her do anything for Mattie, it was ripping my heart out. I would go to war for my brother and having a main character who feels the exact same way I do about my sibling, it was everything and it choked my heart. It’s nearly impossible for me not to see Sadie and Mattie as my brother and I, and I truly believe that’s why this book has hit me so hard from the moment I started reading it. I always say how much I love hard hitting books that shatter me in the best ways and this book goes above and beyond. I don’t think I can love another hard hitting book the way I love this book. This book took a piece of my soul and Sadie and Mattie eternally have my heart.
“I realized pretty early on that the who didn’t really matter so much. That anybody who listens to me, I end up loving them just a little”
Overall, wow… just wow. I don’t think I will ever find another book that has mapped so many trails that make up who I am today. This book was like watching a piece of my past all over again and I’m just completely stunned. This book is heartbreaking, full of sorrow, and it’s one of the few books that have resonated with me. It was like finally hearing someone say, “You can voice your story.” This book is absolutely everything and I will never be over this. I have shed so many tears over this book and even though it may break the heart, there are some beautiful quotes this book delivers. I will forever be recommending this book, full heart and soul. Whether you have a strong sibling relationship or you’re trying to find your voice, this is a book everyone needs to read. This is a book that can change the world and make a difference for so many victims out there. What a masterpiece!
Before I wrap this review up… I need anyone who needs to hear it to know two very important things: One; If you need to talk to someone, anyone, please know that RAINN is always available 24/7 and they’re completely confidential. You can also call 800.656.HOPE at any time, as well. Two; I hear your voice, I understand and have been there, I believe you and you don’t have to be silent, you deserve to have your voice heard.