Carolyn Anbar, children’s manager at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, N.J., talks up a novel she’s especially looking forward to selling in September.
A picture is worth a thousand words, the cliché says, and in Karen Hesse's Safekeeping, it couldn't be more true. This haunting story, illustrated with stark black-and-white photographs taken by Hesse, speaks almost quietly – but oh-so-very disturbingly.
The America's People Party has taken over the United States and turned it into a police state. Radley has come back to Vermont from a volunteer trip to Haiti to find her parents missing and the world she knew in chaos. So she starts walking – to Canada. She has no money, no cell phone, and no food, but the struggle is much deeper than that. There are many more questions than answers, and she may not be alone.
Someone told me once that to help achieve balance in your life, you should practice walking with purpose and feel connected to the earth. Hesse beautifully manages to put readers in Radley's shoes as she takes one step at a time while trying to maintain some sort of sanity. Everything she sees on her journey is in sharp focus, and the photographs are both beautiful and unsettling. This is Radley’s new reality, where survival and sacrifice will hopefully lead to freedom.
I'd love to give this book to a group of teen girls – those who are fans of Wendy Mass, Dana Reinhardt, or Lois Lowry – and then be a part of their discussion afterward. They might groan at first, because there are no bells and whistles. That means no girl warriors, werewolves, or dangerous love interests. This should not mean, however, that the story is not gripping. I would warn readers that once they finish the book, Radley's story will stay with them for quite some time.
Safekeeping by Karen Hesse. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99 September ISBN 978-1-25-001134-3