Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Format: ARC e-book
I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
P L O T
The story focuses on Anna, a girl who’s mother has been hospitalised with bipolar disorder, so she’s had to go and live with her dad, his young wife and new baby daughter. As well as that family fiasco, her best friend, Danielle, has decided she doesn’t want to be Anna’s friend anymore. With family and friendships falling down around her, Anna feels completely lost, and like no one understands her. That is until she stops getting mad at the world and realises there are other people, besides her mother, who care about her.
When I picked up Where You’ll Find Me I wasn’t expecting it to be so Middle Grade. The characters are 13, which is at least two years younger than I’m used to, and the catty friendship situation definitely felt like something only younger girls would do for no reason. I don’t mind Middle Grade, of course not, it was just a surprise that it read more like a Cathy Cassidy book than a Morgan Matson.
What made this book different from others for this age group was its lack of romance. Normally school girls have a crush of some kind. That didn’t play into this book at all. Anna was far too focused on her mother’s health to be bothered about boys and I thought the absence of a romantic interest was completely realistic, given her situation.
P A C I N G
The plot is fairly limited in the fact that it’s just about Anna coming to terms with her new lifestyle. I thought the story was progressing well, but the book felt a lot longer than it was. At under 300 pages, I’d consider it a short read. There was something about it stopping me from reading quickly.
C H A R A C T E R S
Anna felt immature, as far as protagonists go. Maybe it’s because she was younger than I was expected, but I felt she was being unreasonable towards her step mother, Marnie, who was doing all she could to make Anna feel welcome. Their relationship dynamic was the most interest to explore throughout the book, and how they got to appreciate one another in the end. Overall, though, it felt like Anna would be difficult on purpose.
Danielle, the friend who ditches Anna and doesn’t get mentioned much, was horrid. Sarabeth and Shawna, although they may have been ‘freaks’ whatever that means, seemed like lovely girls. Anna should have accepted their friendship sooner.
Marnie was a standout character. I really admired how much she tried to accommodate Anna, but how she also had her own doubts about her lifestyle. It was really interesting for an adult character to be given so much voice.
M E N T A L H E A L T H
As I said, Anna’s mother is diagnosed as bipolar and depressed. Shawna is dealing with trichotillomania. This inclusion of mental health disorders and issues was extremely important to me. When I was reading Middle Grade fiction, there were no such additions. Self harm is also alluded to, and it’s so great to see such important topics being dealt with in books for young teens.
V E R D I C T
I’m giving Where You’ll Find Me 2.5 stars. I felt a little disconnected from the characters because of our age difference, and in my opinion, Anna was being unreasonable too much for me to genuinely like her. It was still a nice book and I’d recommend it purely on the basis of the issues it covered.