by Karen Hesse

Reviewer Rating:


YA dystopias are still a hot genre, and this book is a dystopia, but a much, let's say, quieter, one. There's no love triangle. There's much less violence than in many of these books. This is an introvert's dystopia. Radley flies back from the orphanage in Haiti where she has been volunteering  when the U.S. president is assassinated and the government starts to devolve into chaos. Her parents have been outspoken about their opposition to the government, and she's worried about them. When her plane lands in Manchester, New Hampshire after numerous delays, she finds no one waiting for her, an uncharged cell phone in her bag, a credit card that won't work, and confusion as to what to do. While Radley has a good heart, she has always relied on her parents to fix anything that goes wrong, get her anything she needs. Radley is about to learn how to take care of herself the hard way. When she realizes that no one is coming for her, she starts the long walk towards home, Brattleboro, Vermont. She has very little cash and has to resort to begging for food, Dumpster diving, and sleeping in the woods. Crossing state lines without the proper paperwork is now a crime, so she has that to worry about, too. Radley doesn't find her parents when she finally gets to Brattleboro, and after waiting for them there for a while, hiding from the police the whole time, she decides to try to escape to Canada, hoping it will be safer there and that she will somehow hear word of her parents. Along the way, she meets up with Celia and her dog Jerry Lee, and they make their way over the border and begin to make a home in an abandoned schoolhouse. They learn to survive with very little, Radley learns to be responsible for herself and others, they get help from unexpected places. The author's photographs illustrate throughout, from when she took her own long walks in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Canada. If you're a teen or an adult who wants a more thoughtful dystopia, give Safekeeping a try.

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