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Safekeeping Hardcover – September 18, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-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.-Diana Pierce, Leander High School, TXα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


“The realistic treatment of the experiences of ordinary people in suddenly harsh circumstances makes for an absorbing character study, and the tale is suffused with an understated sadness and a vivid sense of place.” ―BCCB

“Hesse offers some of her best in lavish descriptions of nature and mood…” ―Kirkus

“Hesse (Brooklyn Bridge) beautifully captures the changing landscape of a journey…” ―Publishers Weekly

“A masterfully written powerhouse of a book.” ―School Library Journal, starred

“Mature high school students will especially appreciate this book, perhaps as they embark on the next step in their journey of life.” ―VOYA


Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends; 1 edition (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250011345
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250011343
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book was not what I was expecting. The premise is that the United States has gone crazy after an extremist party has come to power and the president has been assassinated, leaving one girl to set out on her own in a search for her parents and safety. This led me to expect more action and more politics, explaining how we got from our current world to the broken world of the future. Neither of those things was really present, though. Radley doesn't have a lot of encounters with the looters and vigilantes who are roaming the country, and the course of events leading up to the current state of affairs is never fully explained. We don't learn any details about how the American People's Party gained power in a political system that doesn't exactly favour third parties, for example.

None of that turned out to matter, though. What this book mainly is, is a quietly introspective look at the things that we value. And it works very well. Radley reflects on how her parents gave her everything she needed, and wishes deeply that she had shown more appreciation. She wonders how she can make a contribution to society. And she cautiously develops new relationships in a dangerous and unfamiliar world. Looking at the themes that are developed, and how Hesse manages to do it in a way that doesn't feel heavy-handed, I can understand why she's won a Newbery medal for her previous work.

This book also includes an element that I personally always love: setting up a home in an isolated place with minimal supplies, and developing it from a basic shelter where one struggles to survive to a comfortable place that really is a home. It reminds me of stories about homesteading, and the Boxcar Children, and people shipwrecked on desert islands. Again, the survival element is done quietly, without a lot of intense struggle, but I found it very satisfying all the same. This is a powerful book in its understated way.
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Format: Hardcover
3.5 Stars

Safekeeping is set in present day after the US government has become unstable and a new, military government takes over. The news we see every day about unstable governments in third world countries is suddenly the US and that eerie sense of the familiar really sets the tone for the whole story. Radley comes back from charity work in Haiti to find that things back home has deteriorated at a rapid rate. The story, told in small chunks of narrative, knits together a story of one teen girl who might have been just a tad spoiled and follows her journey back to her parents. The "what if" aspect f this book was very gripping and a little on the scary side, quite frankly. The entire first half of the book is Radley alone which drags it down just a bit, but the story gains some depth when Radley meets up with emotionally damaged refugee named Celia who provides some perspective to Radley's story.

I saw a lot of different themes running through this story. The first thing that struck me was Radley's development from a teen with the comfort that she will always have someone to rescue her into someone who must learn to rely on her own wits and resources. The second aspect of the story that I noticed was how fragile everything we have is in our lives. The government was fragile, the societal structure was fragile, lives were fragile but even with that realization, Radley and Celia discover that they are stronger and more resilient than they imagined. Where the strength of institutions failed, the desire of the individual to survive proved to be strongest of all. Despite their dire situation, they are still able to find kindness which gave a bleak situation a ray of hope that kept the story from becoming too downtrodden.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Who am I: I'm a college English instructor who also has a library science degree.

Why I chose this book: I read a Hesse work in library school, and this one seemed appealing.

My review:

With her parents', teachers' and school administrators' blessings, Radley has been working as a volunteer in an orphanage in post-earthquake Haiti. While she is in Haiti, the President is assassinated and the American People's Party takes over the government of the U.S. This new government comes down hard on the people; vigilante groups, police raids, and looting abound. Illnesses believed to have been conquered return because people are in close, unsanitary quarters.

Radley returns to her New England home town after she hears of what has happened, but her parents aren't at the airport to meet her. Her phone isn't working. Her credit card has been cancelled. She has none of the required travel papers. She walks to her own home and hides there for a time - scurrying into the attic at the sound of police - then decides that she must walk even farther: to Quebec.

Another young woman, Celia, has joined Radley, and they find an abandoned schoolhouse in Quebec to survive until things calm down in the US, if not forever. They are quietly helped by a benefactor known during most of the novel as Our Lady of the Barn.

Though this novel has political overtones, it is more about what Radley learns during her time on her own. She learns not to take her parents, or anything else, for that matter, for granted anymore, and the rather spoiled teenage girl who left for Haiti becomes a strong young woman. Readers will wonder when or if she will be reunited with her family.
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