The president assassinated!
Martial law declared.
No travel without permits.
She got her plane ticket home as soon as she could, leaving the sweet children at the Haitian orphanage where she volunteered. But there was no way for Radley to know that her parents would not be at the airport waiting for her and that everything she knew as safe would be gone.
Listen to the first chapter of Safekeeping here, then grab the book at your local library or independent bookstore so you can consider each of each black-and-white photograph as you worry through Celia, Radley, and Jerry Lee’s desperate journey away from despair and danger.
What would you do to survive if you were in Radley’s mud-soaked shoes?
Book info: Safekeeping / Karen Hesse. Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2012. [author’s blog] [author video interview] [publisher site]
My Recommendation: When the president is assassinated, Radley rushes home from volunteering at a Haitian orphanage, but everything is going wrong. Her parents should be waiting for her at the airport, but they’re not. No one answers the phone at home, her credit cards no longer work, her cellphone is dead, and US marshals are everywhere.
New curfews and travel restrictions mean that the teen must walk for days to cover the hour’s drive home, avoiding checkpoints and scavenging food where she can find it. Arriving at her empty house, Radley passes dark stains on the pavement and hides in a secret attic room as police pound on the door in the morning, over and over.
No electricity, no food left, only mom’s photos escaped the looting. She can’t stay here, she’s got to get away – from the marshals, from the uncertainty about her parents’ whereabouts, from the totalitarian state that New Hampshire has become.
So she heads north to Canada, traveling by night, avoiding other people and their potential dangers, staying clear of the small towns swarming with soldiers, until a big dog comes to her and begs that she follow him. Radley finds Celia ill and feverish, nurses her until the trio can continue plodding north through the rainy woods.
A small, safe place – that’s all they need – somewhere away from the soldiers and curfews and guns.
Can Radley, Celia, and Jerry Lee actually make it to Canada?
Where are their parents, their neighbors, their friends?
Will they ever be able to go home, or will martial law grip the US forever?
Karen Hesse’s own black-and-white photographs of the places where the girls and dog travel fill this book with darkness and light, as the cadence of her words measures the steps and steps and steps that Radley takes on this long journey. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com
) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.