Sadie by Courtney Summers

This is a powerful, unique, and sad story that tackles tough topics but provides some amazing representation.

About the Book

Publisher: Wednesday Books  |  Release Date: September 4, 2018  |  Pages: 308
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery  |  Format: Hardcover & Audiobook  |  Source: Purchased & Library

Sadie coverA 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.

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My Review

😭😭😭 It’s been a bit over a week since I finished Sadie and I am still struggling to find the words to adequately review it. Friends this book took me completely by surprise in the best (and worst?) kind of way. Sadie by Courtney Summers was my first read of 2019 and I devoured it in one sitting. This is a powerful, unique, and sad story that tackles tough topics but provides some amazing representation. This book is definitely worth all of the hype it’s received and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

“You aren’t supposed to answer violence with more violence but sometimes I think violence is the only answer.”

The book is told through alternating perspectives: a true crime podcast in the same vein as Serial and in Sadie’s perspective told months apart. Sadie is a nineteen-year-old girl that went missing after her younger sister was brutally murdered and West McCray essentially following Sadie’s trail for the podcast to try and find her. This narrative absolutely gripped me as I read, reading furiously to find the place where the perspectives would merge and all the pieces would fall into place.

Even before Mattie was murdered, Sadie experienced more than her fair share of heartbreak. Major content and trigger warnings for pedophilia, child abuse, drug addiction, and abandonment. She grew up in a trailer park with a drug addict mother that didn’t seem to want her, and all she had was her younger sister Mattie who she all but raised. All Sadie wants is to be loved and that yearning for affection and belonging tugged at my heartstrings deeply.

“How do you forgive the people who are supposed to protect you?” 

One thing I do want to mention is that Sadie has a severe stutter which was refreshing to see represented in media, especially as it isn’t used in a way to demean or ridicule her. It is just a part of her and everyone she meets seems to take it in stride, which was just beautiful to read. While speaking about representation, the poverty representation is also really well done. I feel like stories like these – both fiction and the real missing girls that get media attention – tend to be of affluent white girls, and it is important to show that girls go missing all the time and from all sorts of backgrounds.

“People don’t change. They just get better at hiding who they really are.” 

In talking with Taylor after I finished reading the book, I learned a bit more about Courtney Summers and her speaking for and protecting female victims. One thing that instantly spoke to me at the beginning of the podcast was West McCray saying that he wasn’t going to outline the gruesome details of Mattie’s murder and touching on how problematic it is to have such a “fascination” with the macabre details of female trauma. Sadie definitely proves that you can have a good story that haunts you without the gritty and gory details of a character’s demise.  

“And what compels us to those stories? I think it’s the puzzle of them. Not only of the crimes themselves, the whodunit component, but the whydunit—what drives people to commit these crimes in the first place? And is it something that lurks inside us all? It’s hard to resist those kinds of questions and the pursuit of their answers.”

Interview with Courtney Summers

Summers also does a really good job of highlighting the fact that not all people who do bad things are monsters wearing black hats. Often times the pillars in the community can be hiding a horrible side and doing terrible things. All the good acts that they do in the community doesn’t erase what they have done, and I think it is really important to have bad guys that mirror reality. It’s a small step to showing that victims can be believed instead of not speaking out for fear of not being believed. This story feels hauntingly true in both plot and execution.

The last fifty pages or so built in tension and I was on pins and needles waiting to see how it would end. I really loved the unique storytelling format and mixing the narrative in this way so Sadie’s perspective is also known to the reader. She was more than just a statistic or missing girl, she is a girl alive on the page and I felt her pain and anger like I feel my own. Summers really nailed the podcast aspects, they read just like a true crime podcast sounds like. I did read along with the audiobook after being recommended the fullcast audio, which I thoroughly enjoyed… especially for the podcast chapters, it added to and enhanced my reading experience.

Overall I am absolutely haunted by Sadie and this is an incredible book. It is heartbreaking and sad and so dark, but it is an important story and one that needs to be told. I shed many tears while reading this story and have thought about the book a lot in the past week, and I look forward to reading more of Courtney Summers’ work. I highly recommend reading this book if you enjoy true crime, podcasts, and stories that challenge the victim blaming mentality. Please be sure you are in the right headspace to read a dark story when you pick it up, though.

REPRESENTATION: queer rep (Sadie is bi), poverty rep, stutter rep
CONTENT WARNINGS: abandonment, drug addiction, loss of a loved one, murder, pedophilia, sexual abuse


spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

51 Comments

  1. heather@nightlyreading

    January 8, 2019 at 11:08 AM

    Great review! I loved Sadie too and was haunted for weeks after reading.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 2:11 PM

      Thank you so much, and haunted is definitely how I am still feeling. Just such a stunning book worthy of every bit of praise.

  2. sammers65

    January 8, 2019 at 11:28 AM

    <3 Stunning review Kal! Can't wait to start this book soon!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 2:12 PM

      Thank you so much, Sam, and I hope you love it as much as I did!

  3. Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts)

    January 8, 2019 at 12:42 PM

    Kaleena, what are words if not to mush them together and hope they make sense? 😉 I’m hoping to get to Sadie soon but nope, the library doesn’t like me and I have to wait. 😭

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 2:12 PM

      words making sentence Kal mush. I hope the library likes you soon because WOW

  4. thewolfandbooks

    January 8, 2019 at 1:03 PM

    I listened to this on audiobook but I definitely need to reread a physical copy for deeper analysis. Sadie was so hard to review. I still don’t think my review did it justice. I really liked reading your thoughts. I’m still thinking about Sadie after all these months!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 2:13 PM

      Thank you so much for your comment, and I totally agree with you on Sadie being hard to review. It is just a book that needs to be experienced, and I loved the audio portion – it brought the book alive for me.

  5. Catarina @ Pages & Plots

    January 8, 2019 at 1:44 PM

    YES! I love finding people that loved Sadie as much as I did.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 2:13 PM

      Sadie is so good and I am so mad I waited so long to pick up my copy!

  6. waytoofantasy

    January 8, 2019 at 2:07 PM

    Sounds like an incredible read. Glad this one was an experience for you! Love books that leave me with feelings.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 2:14 PM

      Too many feelings, feelings overload!

  7. pcochrun

    January 8, 2019 at 2:52 PM

    Such a good review! It’s probably my most recommended book of last year. I’m telling everyone about it. I’m going to listen to the audio book… but I think I have to wait a little longer.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 5:48 PM

      I remember you telling me to read it MONTHS ago, and a main reason I wanted to try with the audio was you mentioning the accompanying podcasts. It’s really well done in my opinion!

      1. pcochrun

        January 11, 2019 at 7:42 PM

        Very cool. I just bought it for 2 more people! Forcing it on my friends!

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          January 14, 2019 at 3:04 PM

          I am forcing it on a coworker, hahaha.

          1. pcochrun

            January 14, 2019 at 4:55 PM

            That’s our job!

  8. Kayla @ Books and Blends

    January 8, 2019 at 3:54 PM

    Awesome review Kaleena! This book was so good! Unlike what I was expecting.

  9. rahilshahril

    January 8, 2019 at 4:01 PM

    I really need to read this book! It has been on my TBR way tooo long

  10. Tammy

    January 8, 2019 at 5:39 PM

    Awesome review! I was trying to read this by the end of the year, but just couldn’t squeeze it in. Hopefully I can read it soon, because it sounds like this is a must read😁

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 5:48 PM

      Yea I also intended on reading it in 2018 but it didn’t pan out for me either. I hope you get to it soon and enjoy it as much as I did, Tammy!

  11. Justine @ Bookish Wisps

    January 8, 2019 at 8:52 PM

    Yaaas, I had the same experience with the ending too. I am not sure if my body is shaking or numbing? The narration perspective was somewhat new for me too. I am glad you are starting 2019 off with an amazing read ❤

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 5:49 PM

      Ugh it is just so good, like HOW?! What a way to begin the year indeed although I’ve been slumping ever since hahaah

  12. singerofstories

    January 8, 2019 at 9:37 PM

    I have heard amazing things about this book and I can’t wait to read it. Really nice review =]

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 5:50 PM

      Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy it too! For me it was definitely worth all the hype.

  13. Kaitlyn

    January 8, 2019 at 10:26 PM

    I’m on the waiting list at my library for the audiobook, and as soon as I get it, I’m dropping everything and listening to it. I seriously cannot wait to experience this book. Awesome review!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 5:50 PM

      Thank you so much, Kait! I hope the library hold comes through soon for you, and I would love to hear your thoughts when you get to experience this book yourself!

      1. Kaitlyn

        January 25, 2019 at 7:01 PM

        Thank you!! I still don’t have it, but…hoping it comes in for next month, lol.

  14. Phantom Paper

    January 9, 2019 at 2:11 AM

    Wow, you did such a good job on the review!! I totally appreciated the decision for the author to refrain from the gruesome elements, news and stories nowadays have numbed us and encouraged the schadenfreude part of us too much.

    It makes me glad that you enjoyed this book, too!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 5:57 PM

      Aww thank you so much for the compliment, that means a lot to me! I really never thought about the media’s obsession with female trauma until now and it made me think. I actually was just watching the deeper dive episode on the Black Dahlia case right now from Buzzfeed Unsolved and found myself wondering if the gruesome details would have been so sensationalized if the victim were a man. Probably not. And I kind of think that’s a problem now that I am thinking about it.

      1. Phantom Paper

        January 22, 2019 at 7:21 AM

        Oh, it’s specifically about female trauma? Looks like I missed the memo 😛 And you watch Buzzfeed Unsolved?! My sis was a fan some time ago and I’ve watched quite a few of their episodes. I’m not sure if I’ve watched the Black Dahlia case, I’ll have to check it out. This has reminded me of something on a similar tangent, namely that I find that the female body is way too sexualized, at least more than men.

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          January 25, 2019 at 9:51 AM

          I never really thought about it before but it does seem like there is a fascination with female trauma that just isn’t talked about in the same detail with male victims. At least in the US! Now that I am thinking about it, I will probably see it everywhere. I do watch Buzzfeed Unsolved, I really enjoy the true crime series, the supernatural one not as much.

          1. Phantom Paper

            January 26, 2019 at 7:49 AM

            Oh…if this is the case it’s a sick thing. I do hope it’s not global.

            The thing with Unsolved is that there’s no closure! No answers or concrete evidence to all the questions >_<

          2. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

            January 28, 2019 at 11:17 AM

            I know, that’s the bummer about unsolved cases. I grew up watching Unsolved Mysteries on tv though (even though my parents forbade me) and I think that began my fascination!

  15. Norrie

    January 9, 2019 at 8:22 AM

    * heart-eyes *
    Such an amazing review!
    I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it so much, and i can’t wait to read it as well. Already got the audio, but wanna do a readalong, cuz otherwise i’m worried i’ll forget stuff, or miss out, fall asleep… 😀 (it happened on other audio books)

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 6:02 PM

      awww yay, thank you so much, Norrie! I hear you on the falling asleep (or just letting my mind wander or start browsing twitter), reading along is the best way for me to focus. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did and can’t wait to hear your thoughts!!!

  16. flippingthruthepages

    January 9, 2019 at 10:44 AM

    Such an amazing review Kaleena. I have this arc since a long time and have heard nothing but amazing things about this but somehow I wasn’t able to read it. I don’t know, I don’t want to be haunted these days, considering I have a child on the way 🙈
    But surely hoping to pick it this year.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 6:09 PM

      I definitely think that you need to be prepared for a dark and sad tale, and being an expectant mother is probably not the time. It is an important and beautiful story though, so I do hope you read it one day. Thanks for commenting, Sim!

  17. Lili Star Reads

    January 9, 2019 at 11:10 AM

    I loved this book, I’m glad you loved it aswell!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 6:09 PM

      It was such a great and sad book, glad you also enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by!

  18. pinotandpages247

    January 9, 2019 at 7:39 PM

    Great review! I adored this book too 😍

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 11, 2019 at 6:06 PM

      Thank you so much and I am glad you also enjoyed it!

  19. brittanythebookguru

    January 11, 2019 at 7:22 AM

    I LOVED this book and I’m so glad to see that you did, too! You raised so many great points in support of it. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart… it made me extremely emotional. But it was an absolutely amazing book. Courtney Summers is a magnificent author. Great review!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 14, 2019 at 2:55 PM

      Thank you so much for your comment, and I am glad you also appreciated this book! I can’t wait to read more from Courtney!

      1. brittanythebookguru

        January 15, 2019 at 6:54 AM

        You’re welcome! I’ve read three total I think, so I can only recommend the other two, but they are Some Girls Are and Cracked Up To Be. I don’t know if it’s still available but I actually got both books for the price of one on the Kindle store!

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          January 15, 2019 at 8:01 AM

          I will check those out, thank you! ❤️

  20. Dani Eide

    January 11, 2019 at 12:22 PM

    Thanks Kaleena for the excellent review. So glad the author understood the why drives us to know and thus devour her book. Well done! ❤️❤️

  21. Destiny @ Howling Libraries

    January 16, 2019 at 7:23 PM

    I am so so so glad that you loved this. ♥ Easily one of my favorite reads of 2018 and it legitimately makes me emotional every time I think about it. I’m still waiting on my audio hold to come in from the library but I can’t wait to reread it!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 17, 2019 at 9:45 AM

      Legit if I had read it in 2018 this would have been in my top 5. Hands down. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did, but it hit me in the feels and I still think about it. The audio is so good!

  22. January in Review – Reader Voracious Blog

    February 3, 2019 at 8:58 AM

    […] Sadie by Courtney Summers – this book was beautiful and heart-rending and so incredibly important. I loved this book more than I ever could have expected and I still think of it quite often. Hand’s down my favorite read of the month. | 📖 Read my full review […]

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