Keep me safe, Karen Hesse

Title: Safekeeping
Author: Karen Hesse
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary/dystopian
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Summary from Goodreads- Radley just wants to get home to her parents in Vermont. While she was volunteering abroad, the American People’s Party took power; the new president was assassinated; and the government cracked down on citizens. Travel restrictions are worse than ever, and when her plane finally lands in New Hampshire, Radley’s parents aren’t there.

Exhausted; her phone dead; her credit cards worthless: Radley starts walking.

“Safekeeping” is a beautifully written, frighteningly realistic dystopian novel from beloved children’s writer Karen Hesse.

This is probably the most believable dystopian novel in the ever-growing dystopian cannon. It is also the first book Karen Hesse has written in a while, which makes it even better. I loved her books when I was younger, especially The Music of the Dolphins.

Naturally, I was really excited to read Hesse’s new book. I was mostly satisfied with it, but there were some aspects of the story that didn’t really work for me.

For one thing, I felt like the part where Radley was just walking to Canada was too slow-paced, while the ending, where there were actually other characters and things happened, moved too quickly. There was just a bit too much introspection and not enough outside action.

I also wished I had gotten to hear more about America under the APP, not when things were winding down. I thought the ideas about the future Hesse put forward were very realistic and I wished more of the story had taken place in America. However, I did like that this book did not follow the typical track of young adult dystopian novels. Usually the first book is about the main character finding out their tyrannical society is twisted and warped, the second is about gathering forces together to overthrow the government, and the third is the final battle of the revolution.

I was also unsure as to whether I liked the addition of Julian to the book. Other than Radley having his picture with her, he seemed like kind of a random character. I also wasn’t sure I entirely believed he could have just found Radley’s home and lived there all that time. However, I was happy that (SPOILER) he gave something for Celia to be happy about.

There were a lot of touching moments in the book that really spoke to me and that don’t usually show up in your typical dystopian reads. I was moved by Celia’s backstory, as well as the kindness of Madame Seville. I was especially touched by the various discussions of motherhood.

So, while “Safekeeping” may have had its faults, it was unique and beautiful in ways that only Karen Hesse can accomplish. All in all, it was a great read.


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