Sadie: a book for crime podcast fanatics
If you're a crime podcast fanatic, then Sadie by Courtney Summers needs to be on your audio-TBR list.
All anyone knows is that Sadie went missing shortly after her sister Mattie was found dead.
The book opens with Wes McCray, the host of a podcast called, "The Girls," which attempts to uncover the truth behind Sadie Hunter's disappearance. From the first episode, McCray attempts to retrace Sadie's steps for listeners. Interspersed between these chapters is a narrative from Sadie, which takes readers beyond McCray's perspective of his investigation into Sadie's disappearance.
On Sadie's end, her story is about a girl on a mission. She has run away from home in search of the man who killed her younger sister. Sadie is a strong young woman who has suffered abuse and neglect at the hands of her mother's boyfriend, Keith, and her own mother, Claire. For most of Sadie's young life, she was the shield between her younger sister Mattie and the reality of their lives. Sadie always protected Mattie except for one fateful night.
In Sadie's chapters, the reader follows her along on her drive across the country in search of Keith, the man whom she believes killed Mattie. Her perspective is devastating. She is a young woman full of rage and despair. Her disappearance is more than just another runaway story, and providing her voice as part of the narrative gives her agency. She left with a purpose: to kill a man.
McCray's reluctance to pursue the case at the outset really stuck out to me. It felt like Summers was putting Sadie's story front and center in an effort to give deeper meaning to the lives of missing girls. And in his effort to uncover pieces of Sadie's case, McCray discovers that there is more to the story, more to Sadie's life than he'd anticipated or even wanted to find. Missing girls are more than what they are perceived to be: troubled young people who wandered astray. They are very often young girls whose childhood's have been stolen from them. They often fall victim to the choices made by the adults around them.
But in the case of this book, Sadie was determined to take charge of her life and finally have her voice be heard; have the truth of her story be told.
If you're a fan of crime podcasts, then listening to the audiobook version of Sadie like I did will have you hanging on every word. Just when McCray hits the end of an episode that leaves him with more questions than answers, Sadie's perspective takes you to the ugly places McCray can't quite make it to. Sadie is witty, observant, and determined to fulfill her mission. All while fighting the barrier her severe stutter imposes on her speech. And that's the irony of her situation and journey. Sadie is so determined to have her voice be heard - to be the narrator of her own story - yet, she is literally unable to speak in the way that she wants to, often only managing a few words at a time. Despite being full of fire, sarcasm, and rage, her stutter impairs her ability to express herself, making her appear weak to strangers. She wants anything than to appear weak. She knows she is dangerous.
She wants others to know how dangerous she is.
In the audiobook version, McCray's podcast includes phone interviews and recordings that sound like the real thing. Even down to the sound of a clock ticking on the wall during a conversation with May Beth. This format brings Summers's words to even greater life with a range of voice actors for the wide cast of characters both Sadie and McCray encounter. This makes listening easy and even more engaging than the book itself.
In its print format, the chapters for "The Girls" podcast are printed as transcripts of McCray's show.
Sadie's story is one that turns the trope of the missing girl on its head. Sadie took her life into her own hands. But at what cost? Will she ever be found? Will McCray ever uncover the truth of Sadie's disappearance for his listeners?
You'll have to read to find out.