71 pages 2 hours read

Courtney Summers


Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2018

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Summary and Study Guide


Sadie is a young adult mystery novel published in 2018 by the Canadian author Courtney Summers. The book chronicles teenager Sadie Hunter’s quest to find the man who killed her sister. In alternating chapters, Sadie’s subsequent disappearance becomes the topic of West McCray’s podcast The Girls. Sadie won the 2018 Edgar Award and was chosen for many Best of 2018 book lists.

Plot Summary

Sadie follows the journey of 19-year-old protagonist Sadie Hunter as she searches for her younger sister Mattie’s killer. The novel alternates between chapters of Sadie’s first-person description of her pursuit of Keith, her mother’s former boyfriend, and chapters detailing the transcript of a podcast entitled The Girls, hosted by West McCray. West is brought into the search for Sadie by May Beth Foster, Sadie’s surrogate grandmother.

Sadie grew up in the poverty-stricken town of Cold Creek, Colorado and shares heart-wrenching memories of her life. Her mother Claire Southern was a young heroin addict who neglected Sadie. Sadie developed a stutter at age two, which made her a target for bullies. When Sadie was six, Mattie was born. Sadie loved Mattie completely and became her primary caregiver. Sadie kept Mattie safe and happy, as Claire continued to use drugs and had many live-in boyfriends. One boyfriend was Keith, who sexually abused Sadie. Sadie shielded Mattie from the worst of Claire’s behavior.

When Sadie was 16 and Mattie was ten, Claire left her family. Mattie was devastated, as she deeply loved her mother. Years later, Keith returned to Cold Creek and offered to help Mattie find Claire, so Mattie ran away. Soon after, she was found dead. Sadie felt like the only thing she still had to live for was exacting her revenge on Keith.

Sadie’s road trip takes her through many places in Colorado, as she follows one clue after another in pursuit of Keith. She finds the motel where Keith has a permanent address and breaks into his room. There, she discovers numerous fake driver licenses with Keith’s many aliases, along with “trophies” of the girls Keith molested over the years. Sadie convinces the motel attendant to tell her where she can find Keith.

Sadie finally arrives at Keith’s house, ready to kill him. Sadie enters the house, but Keith takes her by surprise. As she runs out of the house, Keith strikes Sadie in the head. As she loses consciousness, her last thoughts are of Mattie.

West’s podcast episodes alternate with Sadie’s personal narrative. West hears about Mattie’s death while working on another story in the area. Months later, May Beth contacts West and begs him to help search for Sadie. The police investigation of her disappearance was conducted poorly and May Beth is desperate, because she “can’t stand another dead girl.”

West is reluctant to take on the investigation, thinking that the story of another runaway teenage girl is not sufficiently interesting to warrant a podcast. His boss insists, so West begins to reconstruct Sadie’s trail, interviewing all the characters that the reader has already met in Sadie’s chapters.

Claire returns to Cold Creek and West discovers that she is not the monster that May Beth—and Sadie, in her personal account—made her out to be. West discovers Keith’s final address and meets Amanda, who tells West that Keith died months ago of an infected stab wound.

West suspects that Sadie killed Keith in self-defense, though he has no proof. Claire remains in Cold Creek, hoping that Sadie will eventually return home. She credits Sadie with saving many girls from abuse and suggests that West call his podcast The Girls. West hopes that Sadie will hear his show and reach out to him. The author leaves Sadie’s ultimate fate unknown.

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