Sadie: A Novel by Courtney Summers | Book Review

If you’re a fan of true crime podcasts, Sadie is the perfect book for you.

Seamlessly weaving together a murder-mystery told in two distinct timelines, the story follows our title character Sadie as she tries to hunt for her sisters killer, and a man named West, the host of a podcast trying to find Sadie before she makes a decision she can’t take back.

Check out our review of Sadie by Courtney Summers below.

Note: may contain minor spoilers


Star rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (more like 4.5 stars)

Fave quotes:

  • “People don’t change. They just get better at hiding who they really are.”
  • “I always forget fear is a conquerable thing but I learn it over and over again and that, I guess, is better than never learning it.”
  • “A body might not always be beautiful, but a body can be a beautiful deception.” 

Genre: Young adult, contemporary and mystery.

Want to read it? Add it to your Goodreads TBR here

What’s the book about?

A 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.

What did I think?

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (more like 4.5 stars)

I opted to rent the audiobook from the library and I’m 100% convinced it is the only way to experience this book. 

As a fan of true crime podcasts and docos, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sadie feels like a real serial. Told in a podcasting format, the details are extensive and the emotional outpour from both the host and those who he interviews feels as real and raw as it could get. It’s an entirely unique and brilliant way to tell this story.

The characters

The book takes place in two timelines only a few months apart and is told with alternating character chapters. Combined, these two characters make near perfect narrators and, in what was an utterly delightful reveal, both can be unreliable at times – I love an unreliable narrator trope.

Meet Sadie

Talk about the power of a sibling bond!

Sadie is a force to be reckoned with as she embarks on her pursuit for justice. Flawed by the shitty hand that life has dealt her, it’s her resilience that really makes her a great character. She’s the kind of protagonist I didn’t know I wanted to follow and every interaction she has gives you a little more insight into how she has become this hardened version of herself – everything about this girl feels raw.

She is fiery, fearless and 100% emotionally invested in finding her sisters killer, even if it puts her in harms way. While her persistence is one of her strongest qualities, it also serves as one of the biggest frustrations as a reader. I wanted to get this girl in a room and yell at her so many times but in what is a true testament to Summers writing, her redemption comes through many grounding moments that remind you how and why she is the way she is.

On that note, her life journey will also pull on your heartstrings. As the story progresses and we hear about the different parts of her life and her personality, its easy to see how her environment have directly impacted her decisions – to both her benefit and her detriment.

Meet West

West is a radio personality turned podcaster who is working on a project about small, forgotten towns in America. When he gets wind of Sadie and Maddie’s situation, he makes it his mission to uncover the truth and find Sadie before she meets a similar end to her sister. West begins his investigation by visiting the trailer park where the girls grew up, talking to a bunch of wild characters from around the town and becoming deeply connected to one of her neighbours who appears to know the girls inside-and-out.

A fantastic companion to Sadie, West brings some much needed depth to the story. Summers has clearly researched this character well and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is modelled off a true-crime journalist or serial host. Full of wit and charm, his personality traits are what keep his character afloat. It also becomes clear fairly quickly that what may have started as an excellent career opportunity quickly evolves into a genuine care for what happens to Sadie – which I loved.

The themes

Not only is this a character driven true crime story, but Summers has also done a great job of covering off a number of themes.

The importance and resilience of family is a major topic explored throughout the story but also, unsettlingly, there are a myriad of darker topics uncovered as we follow West and Sadie: paedophilia, violence, alcohol/substance abuse, and abandonment to name a few.

I thought all of these topics were handled with care and are used wonderfully to set the tone for the book.


This is 100% worth all the hype it has received since its release.

Weaving together a smart and compelling narrative, I loved switching between both characters and found the slow burn reveals to be both gripping and heartbreaking. While the book admittedly ends on a complicated mix of brilliant and frustrating storytelling, I can’t imagine it wrapping it up any other way.

Recommend lending your ears to the audiobook.

Written by Monique Renee

Usually barefoot and deep in wanderlust mode, Mon loves binging Netflix, cuddling babies and stalking through Instagram looking for boho decor inspo and hotties with man buns. You’ll usually find her on holiday, planning a holiday or thinking about holidays.

Favourite Instagram to follow: @the_female_lead


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