cover image Keeping Safe the Stars

Keeping Safe the Stars

Sheila O’Connor. Putnam, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-25459-8

Choosing an unusual setting—the 1974 summer of Nixon’s resignation— O’Connor (Sparrow Road) skillfully tackles complex issues of truth and loyalty in a story filled with adventure, suspense, and family drama. Pride, Nightingale, and Baby Star, having lost their parents, are being raised by their grandfather, Old Finn, to live self-sufficiently on his farm in rural Minnesota. With Old Finn suddenly hospitalized, 13-year-old Pride struggles to keep her younger siblings fed, while maintaining their independence and hiding their grandfather’s absence from increasingly suspicious adults. The strong-minded siblings frequently clash over what is right and wrong, even as their predicament bonds them ever more strongly. Through Pride’s conflicts regarding ethical behavior, love, and survival, O’Connor brings to life the murky territory of morality. In one poignant scene, Pride empathetically watches Nixon’s resignation speech: “when he said, ‘I have always tried to do what was best for the nation’... it made me think about the lies I’d told to try to help my family. I’d say the same, I tried to do the best.” A thought-provoking page-turner. Ages 10–up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Oct.)