I could not stop listening to this audiobook. It’s 8 hours long and I finished it in a day because I. Could not. Stop. Listening. If you like listening to podcasts, you are going to like this audiobook. Period. In fact, if you like podcasts, you can actually listen to half of this book in podcast form. Let me back up.
Here’s the need to know background: Sadie’s life has been difficult. Mom has never been much of a mom. A heroin addict who is always looking for a man to take care of her, she gives birth to Sadie but a kindly neighbor, the grandmotherly, Maybeth, does more to raise Sadie than Mom. A few years later, when Mom gives birth to another daughter, Sadie finds her life’s purpose. Even though she is just a little girl herself, Sadie knows that she can give Mattie everything her mom never gave her and probably wouldn’t give Mattie. Eventually, inevitably, Mom runs away, basically leaving Sadie to truly raise Mattie alone. Years later, when Mattie is thirteen, she receives a postcard from Mom in LA. Mattie then becomes obsessed with going to LA. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
The story begins with a radio program. The announcer introduces a new podcast called, The Girls, which he then explains:
“Created and hosted by one of our longtime producers, West McCray, The Girls explores what happens when a devastating crime reveals a deeply unsettling mystery. It’s a story about family, about sisters, and the untold lives lived in small-town America. It’s about the lengths we go to to protect the ones we love and the high price we pay when we can’t. And it begins where so many stories do, with a dead girl.” Woah.
West McCray is Colorado adding to his series of stories on the decline of Small Town America when he hears about a thirteen-year-old girl whose brutally murdered body was just discovered nearby in Cold Creek. West doesn’t even consider chasing that story. Sadly, it’s just another dead girl with an unknown killer. Nothing original there. That dead girl was Mattie. A year later, in desperation, Mattie’s caretaker (Maybeth) calls West after being told by a friend in a neighboring town that West was someone who would “give a damn” and someone who might be able to help. Maybeth tells West about Mattie (he remembers the story) and that now, Sadie has gone missing. She disappeared in June and her car was found abandoned in Farfield, Colorado (quite a drive from Cold Creek) in mid-July. Maybeth begs West to investigate because she “can’t take another dead girl.” And the story begins.
The alternating POVs in this story are fascinating and original. One POV is West’s podcast, The Girls, in which his narration is interspersed with the content of interviews he is conducting during his investigation. The other POV belongs to Sadie and it begins the day she disappears, which is about eight months before West’s story begins. The timeline of West being so many months behind Sadie gives the novel massive tension which will have readers begging for West to hurry and catch up to her. I don’t know how but this is my first read of Courtney Summer’s work. Her details gave me clear pictures of every character in this book (and there are many). My favorite is her description of Sadie: “I’m the result of baby bottles filled with Mountain Dew. I have a system that doesn’t quite know how to process the finer things in life. . . I have never been kissed the way I want to be kissed and I have never been touched the way I want to be touched.” Woah.
Finally, I’ve got to talk about this audiobook. It’s a WOW. One of the best I’ve listened to. It’s narrated by a full cast. West is narrated by Dan Bittner (he has my heart because he was Cole St. Clair in Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver series) and Sadie is narrated by Rebecca Soler. But they are not the only narrators. In the podcast POV, each of the people interviewed by West iis voiced by a different narrator. The podcast POV also includes music and recaps, just like a real podcast. I beg you to listen to this audiobook. If you can’t go all-in on an audiobook, here’s something else you can try. Go to Apple’s podcast store and download the podcast, The Girls. It’s FREE! Grab a copy of the book then READ Sadie’s chapters and LISTEN to the podcast chapters. HOW COOL IS THAT???
I believe Sadie will begin a new trend in YA, both in the originality of its audio format and in tackling the podcast style. As you can clearly tell, Sadie is an absolute MUST READ/LISTEN.