Book Review: Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

Book Reviews


by Karen Hesse

Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends; 1 edition (September 18, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250011345
ISBN-13: 978-1250011343

 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.

Synopsis and Publishing Information courtesy of

This book was hidden, back among the shelves bursting at the seams with vampire romances and alien novels in the Young Adult section of my library. Tucked away in a forgotten corner of the library, something pulled me toward this book, with a mediocre cover and a not-uncommon premise. Of course he government is overthrown… Of course the teen protagonist must learn to deal with the beginning of a new way of life…

But wait, there’s more.

Interspersed with the authors personal photos as a way of telling the story instead of just illustrating it with pretty pictures, this was not a dystopian novel like I expected. It was a novel of surviving in the wild, on your own, and learning to build a life from the woods and wilderness around you. It reminded me of my deep-seated love for the My Side of the Mountain series by Jean Craighead George that I had loved years ago. It was a book more about the natural world of the wilderness than dystopian fiction. With Ms. Hesse’s way of writing I could smell the meadow that surrounded Radley’s new home, hear the sounds of the wind, and feel the coldness of the rain as it poured on the page.

Every once in a while, a book will come along that was meant for that time, that portion of our everyday lives. Safekeeping was exactly what I needed at that moment, and Karen Hesse’s writing captured me in every sense, so that I too, was safely kept in Radley’s world for a while.

To learn more about Karen Hesse and her other books, please visit:

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