Find Me is Romily Bernard’s debut novel, but it doesn’t read like one. It’s complex, engaging with a writing style that flows and it deals with real life issues that can plague families and community alike. Wick Tate has had a rough life; her mother was driven to suicide after enduring abuse from her husband, and to top it off, he’s a drug dealer on the run. She and her younger sister, Lily, have been placed under the care of a nice couple from the rich side of town. Wick feels like they don’t fit in; their lives are just too different, and she hacks for money in case they need to run away if their father makes an appearance or if their foster family doesn’t want them. And then one day, Wick finds the diary of a classmate at her doorstep with a sticky note that reads “Find Me.” But the problem is Tessa, the diary’s owner, is dead. Wick gets dragged into the chase, for there’s a killer on the loose, and he has chosen his next target: Lily. Wick has to tread carefully to save her sister, to not draw attention from the detective chasing her father who seems very interested in her, to fight against her dad without getting anyone hurt, and juggle Griff, the boy next door who’s intent to help.
Sounds loaded? It’s not. Find Me isn’t an average thriller. The story is constructed in such a way that all the pieces fit together.
Every problem Wick has to deal with helps in her development as a character. She feels like she’s the only one who can solve them because no one will care for her and her sister. She hacks to have money in case they need to run even though she understands it makes her a criminal. Because of this, she feels like she doesn’t deserve anything good in the world. She wants to protect her sister and herself, but she feels like she’s powerless to stop all the things that suddenly tumble on them.
Despite this, she plunges on; she puts up a brave face for her sister and tries to address the problems as best as she can. She’s afraid and feels like she’s not strong enough, but she braves her father, the killer’s threats and the questionable detective who seems very interested in her. I find Wick an admirable character; even though she takes on things on her own, she wants to protect her sister and those she loves. She wants to break out of the cycles. But sometimes, she doesn’t see a way out…and that’s where the other characters come in.
Lily, Bren, Griff and Todd were supportive characters who complemented Wick and made her grow, and in turn, they evolved with her. Find Me did a good job integrating the characters with the protagonist, especially Griff. He’s the love interest and I thought he balanced Wick. He’s sweet and caring and determined to show Wick she’s not alone. He doesn’t want her to sneak away but he gives her space and respects her. I thought he was a great counterpart to her given the themes and issues Find Me raises.
The first of these issues is abusive relationships in both family and romantic relationships. The novel places these types of relationships at the bottom of many of its problems. Wick’s father beat her, her mom and Lily. Tessa had a romance with her killer before it turned violent, and her father bullied her and her family. By not addressing this abuse, not finding help or knowing how to get out, many characters suffered. Tessa didn’t tell her family she was being abused precisely because her father alienated her, and she ended up dead; and Wick and Lily’s mother committed suicide.
This leads me to another issue the novel addresses: suicide. Not many books can address this delicate situation, and Find Me shows this with much care. Wick is still trying to cope with her mother’s suicide; this has changed her and her life in more ways than she could have envisioned. Tessa’s death, ruled as a suicide, sends waves across the school and family. Some of the snippets of her diary shown at the opening of every chapter explain Tessa’s reasons for wanting to commit suicide. The characters feel guilt, grief and a sense of being abandoned. Personally, Wick feels responsible; she feels she should have saved her mother and Tessa. But she’s urged on to save others and slowly, she is able to find peace.
The other major issue this book addresses is adoption. Wick and Lily come from a broken family. He has Wick working for him. As a result, she doesn’t trust people. She’s been hurt too much to trust. She doesn’t believe her new family will keep her and her sister, even though they look after their every need. It’s hard for her to believe they care for her because she’s so jaded. So it’s a process for her to adapt to her new life and these people who seem to want her and her sister. I felt Find Me did a wonderful job portraying this; it’s not easy to fit into a new family with those experiences under the belt, to believe in others after being left alone.
Find Me is such a unique book touching upon many issues while mixing it with a killer. Wick uses her hacking skills to track him down and try to save her sister. If you’re worried about the plot with the killer overshadowing the rest, this isn’t the case; all issues are dressed accordingly and they all show Wick’s unique voice, spunk and drive. I truly enjoyed reading it. My only critique is that, toward the beginning, the background details of Wick’s and Lily’s life were confusing and distracting, but other than that, I deeply enjoyed this fast read.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Mara Delgado Sanchez, the Young Adult Reviewer at Girls in Capes, is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in fiction. She draws inspiration from writers such as Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf and is an avid reader of young adult novels, science fiction, and fantasy.