Ever since Karen Hesse wrote, Out of the Dust, I have been a fan of her. It's a fabulous historical fiction book about a tough time told from a child's perspective.
When I was at the library browsing, the same time I picked up The Impossible Knife of Memory, I came across Safekeeping by Karen Hesse.
The minute I saw Hesse wrote this book I picked it up. I'm sure glad I did b/c Safekeeping earned 5 out of 5 stars in my book review.
There are many reasons for the perfect score, but it all comes down to the fact that it is an original storyline that I found quite intriguing. Hesse had the reader constantly trying to figure out the complete story of what was going on in the anarchy type state in the USA.
I also gave Safekeeping all 5 stars b/c even at a point in the story where it would've been quite easy to drag on it never did. Radley, the main character, narrator and one who is a strong female character (fabulous for young girls to read), walks all the way from Manchester, New Hampshire to Canada. With all of that walking it could've been a bit tedious. I mean, I love Harry Potter, but in the 7th book, Deathly Hallows, when they are camping in the woods I swear it dragged on far too long for me. However, Hesse included original black and white photographs that she took along the exact same path Radley walked. Hesse also kept the text short during that walking time. The pictures and the short text really helped the long period of walking to go by quickly and keep the story moving at a steady pace.
Safekeeping also received 5 stars for the strong character development in both Radley and Celia, the good and bad of humanity shown, a clean read, and yet again the fast and fascinating story. It's a fabulous book that I do think 7th grade, at the earliest, all the way up to adults will truly enjoy.
Amazon had the following book review which provides a bit more description of the storyline:
"Radley Parker-Hughes has been volunteering in an orphanage in Haiti after the recent earthquake, but she returns home to a country in the grip of an even more chaotic situation. The American Political Party has assumed power, the president has been assassinated, and martial law prevails. Soldiers with guns at the airport, travel paper requirements-is this really the New Hampshire she left just a few months ago? And where are her parents, who are usually so prompt picking her up at the airport? Radley decides to get home any way she can, even though she will have to cross states lines, strictly forbidden by the new government. When she arrives, her parents are nowhere to be found, but the police are. She decides to leave, hiding in the woods at night, making her way to Canada, assuming that's where her parents went. One day she encounters an obviously ill young woman who is also trying to escape. The two form an uneasy alliance and, along with Celia's dog, Jerry Lee, they slip across the border. An abandoned shack becomes home, and through the kindness of strangers, they survive and become close. Once the chaos in the U.S. subsides, Radley makes her way back home, only to find that things will never be the same. A journey back to Canada can't soothe her pain, but a return to Haiti does. And so her story comes full circle. The prose is exquisite, almost poetic. The simple beauty of the narrative and lovely black-and-white photographs actually intensify the sense of confusion and disorder, giving readers a chilling feeling of reality. They see, through the use of flashbacks interspersed in the story line, how Radley grows from a confused, scared teen into a confident young woman, able to handle her own life. A masterfully written powerhouse of a book."
A powerful quote from the end of Safekeeping:
"As long as you live, it is never too late to make amends. Take my advice, child. Don't waste your precious life with regrets and sorrow. Find a way to make right what was wrong, and then move on... The way you live your life now, that is how you make amends to those you have lost, that is how you honor them." (pg 277)
I like that quote. I really liked this book. It's a great clean read with a fabulous storyline that everyone can enjoy.
A middle school teacher could use this as a classroom read-aloud, or class novel. A plethora of discussions could come from this book.
Give this book a read; you'll be glad you did.
Any of you read this one? What did you think, 5 stars?