Cathy's Reviews > Safekeeping

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse
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's review
Sep 19, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: other
Read in September, 2012

Sometimes, flawed though it may be, a book haunts me. It crawls under my skin and insists on staying there. The characters won't leave, none of them - even the ones I never actually meet - they all just dance on the backs of my eyelids, walking through my reading life over and over again.
The prose in Hesse's novel is, not surprisingly, beautiful, skillful, stirring. I spent my teenage years in Vermont - Saturdays in Brattleboro, hiking Putney Mountain, travelling the twists and turns of Route 5. It's where I will return one day and Safekeeping reminds me why.
The political upheaval in the United States was thinly drawn, however, and although Safekeeping is not a dystopian novel a more thorough look into the political back story may have helped clarify why the democracy flipped on a dime and why Rad's parents weren't more prepared for that flip. And the return to "civilization" seemed a bit too easy - really? in
The photographs, especially the long road shots, help to establish distance, terrain and landscape. The photographs of food juxtaposed against Rad's and Celia's hunger were quite effective however I found the images of farm animals quite distracting since Hesse mentions them not at all. With the exception of the chickens there is no mention of the cows, horses and sheep that dot the Route 5 landscape.
Those criticisms aside, Radley's and Celia's evolution are breathtaking. They each journey out of the self-absorbed world of adolescence and into a larger world where caring for other human beings is healing. We are healed as much as we heal.

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