Monday, September 10, 2012

Safekeeping - a review

As part of my First Fall Giveaway - I hope there will be a Second Fall Giveaway - I am giving away my ARE of Safekeeping by Newbery Award winner, Karen Hesse

Hesse's writing is so smooth, reading this book was effortless.  And I don't mean that I didn't think about this book.  I mean the description of what the main character sees and hears unfold in a seamless way.  To me, this is the best way to write fiction.  When the reader notices the writer's words and craft, I find it detracts from the story.  But, this is a discussion for a day when I have nothing better to type about.

Radley, our protagonist, returns home from volunteering in Haiti when an assassination has thrown America into a panic.  Radley's parents have not answered their phones since she insisted on leaving Haiti.  But Radley expects them to be there when she gets off her plane, even though she has been routed through Philadelphia.  They are not.

In the airport, panic and paranoia reign.  People are dragged off by armed military.  Radley has to walk from the airport in Philadelphia to her home in New Hampshire - a trip made perilous since her money is in her checked backpack in another airport and her cell phone is dead.  And when she finally gets home, her house is empty.  And the police are looking for Radley.

Set in a not-so-distant future, in a not-so-implausible America, Radley's story brings to the foreground just what fear can do to a society.  When Radley and a stranger travel together to Canada and hide out there, fear is gradually replaced with grudging trust as the two struggle to survive.

Safekeeping stands out from the crowd of dystopian novels that crowd the YA shelves, because it is believable.  We experience similar, though not as drastic, security measures when we travel.  Stories of people behaving badly when faced with trauma flood the news.  There is a touch too much of NOW in this book.  The ending, however, is suffused with hope.  It buoyed me up.

So, comment on this post - or on yesterday's post - if you want to win my copy of Safekeeping.  Or pick a copy up at your local bookstore or library.  You will not be sorry.

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