Saturday, September 15, 2012

ARC Review: Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

Author: Karen Hesse
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (September 18, 2012)

Description: Radley’s parents had warned her that all hell would break loose if the American People's Party took power. And now, with the president assassinated and the government cracking down on citizens, the news is filled with images of vigilante groups, frenzied looting, and police raids. It seems as if all hell has broken loose.

Coming back from volunteering abroad, Radley just wants to get home to Vermont, and the comfort and safety of her parents. Travel restrictions and delays are worse than ever, and by the time Radley’s plane lands in New Hampshire, she’s been traveling for over twenty-four hours. Exhausted, she heads outside to find her parents—who always come, day or night, no matter when or where she lands—aren’t there.

Her cell phone is dead, her credit cards are worthless, and she doesn’t have the proper travel papers to cross state lines. Out of money and options, Radley starts walking. . . .

Illustrated with 50 of her own haunting and beautiful photographs, this is a vision of a future America that only Karen Hesse could write: real, gripping, and deeply personal.

My Thoughts: SAFEKEEPING is a breath-taking journey of self-discovery and survival taking place in a near future United States that has been taken over by the American People's Party which has instituted martial law and is jailing any sort of protester. Seventeen-year-old Radley Parker-Hughes had been volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti but, when the APP took over, she was determined to get home to her parents in Vermont. 

The United States Radley returns to is not at all like the one she left. She stripped herself of all her possessions because the orphans in Haiti needed them more. She was confident that her parents would be waiting the arrival of her flight and would take care of her. However, her parents are not waiting when she arrives. And, not having the necessary funds or paperwork to take public transportation, Radley determines to walk from Manchester, New Hampshire to Brattleboro, Vermont. She is alone, penniless, and afraid of being arrested. She learns to look for food in dumpsters and find abandoned buildings for shelter at night. She lives on the hope that her parents will be waiting for her when she gets home. 

However, when she gets to Brattleboro, her parents are not there. There house is standing empty. The director of the orphanage in Haiti had encouraged her to go to Canada instead of Vermont. So she decides to keep walking and get to Canada in the hopes that her parents have done the same thing. Along the way she meets and befriends Celia and her dog Jerry Lee. Gradually, as they travel, they learn each other's stories and help each other survive. 

The girls come to rest in an abandoned school house near Sutton, Quebec where they are helped by an old woman who lives nearby. But Radley's journey is not over. 

The story is told in the first person and, at first, Radley seems sort of spoiled. She has always had her parents as backup when she loses her phone charger or doesn't keep any money to feed herself. But Radley also has a very good heart. She is a caretaker - first of the orphans in Haiti and second of Celia as they travel to try to find safety. Through her narrative, we also learn about her relationship with her parents and all the things she learned from them about survival and about life. 

The story is told in four parts. There are many photographs (taken by the author) that go along with the short vignettes that make up the story. Hesse paints marvelous, poetic pictures of what Radley is seeing and doing. I found the story to be very moving and emotional. 

Favorite Quote (May not be final):
My mother's mother had stunning taste. But she had no idea who I was or what I liked. Her gift to me was a cowboy dress, a jaundice-yellow fabric printed with brown horses. It was the ugliest dress I had ever seen. I couldn't bring myself to put it on. I couldn't imagine wearing it, even as a joke.

I feel a deep pain, like a punch to the gut. 

I'd wear it now, if only I could have my parents, my grandparents, my old life back.

I'd wear it now.
I received this ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here

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