4.1 14
by Karen Hesse

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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

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hesse (Brooklyn Bridge) beautifully captures the changing landscape of a journey, the wonder of discovery, and a fight to survive in a near-future novel set in the aftermath of a presidential assassination. A group of rebels called the American People’s Party has taken control, and prisons are overcrowded with those they’ve arrested. Radley, an American teenager returning home from doing volunteer work in Haiti, finds her parents gone and her Vermont home abandoned. Not knowing whom to trust or where she’ll be safe, she sets out on foot to Canada, befriending a reticent girl along the way. The two form a tentative friendship and manage to cross into Canada, where they begin a new, primitive life, relying on their wits and small acts of kindness from strangers. The first-person narrative (reflected a shade too obtrusively in Hesse’s 50 b&w photographs) intimately depicts Radley’s loneliness, her longing to regain what she’s taken for granted, and her delight in rediscovering simple pleasures, like eating a hot meal. Hesse’s story is a reminder of how compassion emerges during even the worst of times. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)

The realistic treatment of the experiences of ordinary people in suddenly harsh circumstances makes for an absorbing character study, and the tale is suffused with an understated sadness and a vivid sense of place.
VOYA - Nancy Pierce
Radley Parker-Hughes has been in Haiti volunteering at an orphanage. She returns home to the Northeast, but home is not the same. During the time she was gone, the president of the United States was assassinated, and political turmoil has ensued. Radley cannot reach her parents--few phones work--her credit cards do not work, and she has no money. Her only choice is to journey on foot from the airport to her home. Along the way, she must avoid soldiers and criminals while trying to survive on scraps of food from strangers and what she can find in Dumpsters. Radley encounters Celia during her journey, and they walk to Canada for safekeeping, hoping to eventually be able to return to home and family. Safekeeping is similar to the hero’s journey we have seen throughout literature. Here, a teenage girl wants to return to home and family, but home has changed and family might never be there. This novel is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (Knopf, 2006): Something has happened in the United States, and we learn little of what occurred, but the journey and self-discovery along the way is what is important. The prose is very atmospheric--one can really imagine a very bleak reality for Radley during her journey. This atmosphere is reinforced with the inclusion of photographs. These wonderful photos become part of the narrative only after the prose sets the tone during the first part of the novel. Mature high school students will especially appreciate this book, perhaps as they embark on the next step in their journey of life. Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Radley Parker-Hughes has been volunteering in an orphanage in Haiti after the recent earthquake, but she returns home to a country in the grip of an even more chaotic situation. The American Political Party has assumed power, the president has been assassinated, and martial law prevails. Soldiers with guns at the airport, travel paper requirements-is this really the New Hampshire she left just a few months ago? And where are her parents, who are usually so prompt picking her up at the airport? Radley decides to get home any way she can, even though she will have to cross states lines, strictly forbidden by the new government. When she arrives, her parents are nowhere to be found, but the police are. She decides to leave, hiding in the woods at night, making her way to Canada, assuming that's where her parents went. One day she encounters an obviously ill young woman who is also trying to escape. The two form an uneasy alliance and, along with Celia's dog, Jerry Lee, they slip across the border. An abandoned shack becomes home, and through the kindness of strangers, they survive and become close. Once the chaos in the U.S. subsides, Radley makes her way back home, only to find that things will never be the same. A journey back to Canada can't soothe her pain, but a return to Haiti does. And so her story comes full circle. The prose is exquisite, almost poetic. The simple beauty of the narrative and lovely black-and-white photographs actually intensify the sense of confusion and disorder, giving readers a chilling feeling of reality. They see, through the use of flashbacks interspersed in the story line, how Radley grows from a confused, scared teen into a confident young woman, able to handle her own life. A masterfully written powerhouse of a book.—Diana Pierce, Leander High School, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Billed as "a novel of tomorrow," this account of a privileged teenager who returns from a goodwill trip in Haiti to a changed America disappoints. In the aftermath of a presidential assassination, the American People's Party has taken over the government, enforcing strict new security measures. Without food or cash and unable to reach her parents, Radley finally arrives in Brattleboro, Vt., to find her home empty. Holding out hope that she'll rejoin her parents, Radley heads off to Quebec on foot. She meets a taciturn girl named Celia, and the two cross the border together. They settle into an abandoned schoolhouse, relying on a benefactor Radley dubs "Our Lady of the Barn." The sinister political backdrop gets short shrift, as the storyline plays out like a tone poem, with the bulk of the novel built around the author's photographs of the countryside. Implausibilities interrupt the placid pacing of the prose: Radley's methodical search of the house before getting food from the pantry, despite days of starvation; her utter reluctance to communicate with others out of paranoia that she'll be arrested; restaurant Dumpsters full of food though no one seems to be about. Hesse offers some of her best in lavish descriptions of nature and mood, all overlaid with a social message, but this might be of more interest to adults than to teens. (Speculative fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

Feiwel & Friends
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Karen Hesse

Feiwel and Friends

Copyright © 2012 Karen Hesse
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-2752-3


part one

I stare out the small window over a vast field of clouds.

New travel restrictions ban even backpacks from the cabin of the plane.

I haven't brought much out of Haiti anyway. The orphans at Paradis des Enfants need my sandals, my toothpaste, my T-shirts more than I need them.

Besides, Mom will buy new stuff for me when I get home.

I can't believe half of what I've heard in Haiti about what's happening in the U.S. But if even half of that is true ...

My heart raps at my ribs like a trapped thing.

I remember my parents warning that all hell would break loose once the American People's Party took power.

And now it seems as if all hell has broken loose.

The plane is rerouted in flight with no explanation. To Philadelphia. When we touch down in Philly military personnel direct us through customs. There are three separate officers at three discrete stations. Each station has its own arsenal of weaponry. Each its own computerized lists.

At the second checkpoint, soldiers single out a dread-locked man three people ahead of me in line and strong-arm him away. He had been sitting across the aisle from me on the flight from Haiti. I watch, stunned, as the man is led off, arrested on suspicion of ... of what?

My head aches by the time my turn comes at the last station. The officer carefully studies my passport, shines a small light on it, fixes a hard stare on my face. He checks my name against his master list, then opens my passport again. "Radley Parker-Hughes," he says. There's something about my name he doesn't like. I'm having trouble breathing. The room spins around me.

Finally, he makes a decision. He lets go of whatever it is that's bothering him and sends me through.

It's taken hours to clear customs. Racing across the terminal, I fear I'll miss my reassigned flight. But at the designated gate I discover the plane to Manchester, New Hamphsire has been delayed indefinitely. The attendant at the desk promises to make an announcement the moment she gets more information.

I close my eyes. As best I can I block out the news reports playing on the overhead monitors. I can only watch the same chaotic scenes so many times without going out of my mind.

With no cash in my pocket and my charge card in my checked backpack, I try to sleep. What other way is there to eat up the endless hours of waiting?

Except for a plastic cup of complimentary orange juice on the flight from Haiti, I haven't eaten since early this morning when Monsieur Bellamy put a piece of his wife's cake into my hands. "As soon as I get a line through, I will send a message to your parents, letting them know you are on your way," Monsieur Bellamy reassured me.

Now, nearly ten hours later, I'm still nowhere near home and they've just announced that our plane will be delayed at least another few hours.

Although my stomach has definitely grown smaller on one meal a day at the orphanage, there's a gnawing emptiness inside me.

I surrender to the overwhelming need to hear the sound of my mother's voice. But no matter how much I search I can't find a phone booth anywhere. Finally, I ask an attendant at the USAir desk.

"All the pay phones have been removed," she tells me. "No one needed them anymore. Everyone has a cell."

But with the new travel restrictions no one is allowed to carry cell phones onto the plane. Mine nests inside my backpack, which is in some cargo hold between Port au Prince, Haiti, and Manchester, New Hampshire.

I guess I'll just have to wait. I trust that Monsieur Bellamy has reached my parents by now and told them when and where to meet me. I hope they know my plane is delayed so they're not sitting all these hours at the airport.

Everywhere I look there are uniformed patrols. Their steely scrutiny unnerves me.

An eerie quiet fills the terminal. The only sound is the nearly muted commentary on FOX news. Everyone stares at the screens, watching the same clips of vigilante groups wandering like packs of dogs, frenzied looters racing through electronics stores, round-shouldered police interviewing shocked bystanders.

My fellow travelers sit or stand, staring, mesmerized by the images. No one speaks.

Near dawn, after an endless wait, a plane is finally found for us and we're allowed to board. A little over an hour later, we land in New Hampshire. I'm one of the first from our flight to reach baggage claim and my pack emerges from the black hole early for a change.

I'm exhausted from twenty-four hours of travel. I just want to climb into the backseat of my parents' car, eat a granola bar, close my eyes, and sleep through the two-and-a-half-hour ride home.

Despite the huge plate-glass windows in the terminal, a gray and sullen light greets me. I expected to return to the breathtaking beauty of May. Instead, out the glass doors a heavy blanket of storm clouds suffocates the life out of New England.

And I don't see my parents.

I've never arrived in an airport without my parents meeting me. They always come, day or night, no matter where I land, no matter when I land ... they're always there.

But they're not here now.

Monsieur Bellamy promised to get a call through to them.

I reason that they'll be here any minute ... that something has held them up. Or that they've gone to grab something to eat because they've been waiting for so long. Soon I'll see their beaming faces. Soon I'll be pawing through the hamper of snacks my mother always packs for the ride home.

But when they don't show after a half hour, I swipe at my tears, battling the rising tide of panic.

I've been unwilling to take my eyes off the doors, certain my parents will materialize at any moment; but I can't wait any longer. Stopping at a bank of chairs, I dig around for the cell phone inside my backpack.

Posted on the airport walls are new laws printed in boldface letters. Curfews. Mandatory registrations. Threats of incarceration. I don't remember seeing any of this in Philadelphia. Is it possible they've been posted only in the last few hours? Is it possible they've been posted only in New England?

When I open my cell, I remember it's dead. I reach into my backpack again, this time for the charger. But I can't remember packing the charger. Not until I've emptied every compartment twice and checked every zippered pocket a half dozen times am I certain that I left the charger in Haiti. Beside my bed. At the Paradis des Enfants.

Typical. So typical.

My parents never scold me about the frequency with which I lose things. They always just fix it for me, no matter how I screw up. I'm used to them just fixing it for me.

Where are my parents now? I need my parents to fix things for me now. But they are nowhere. They're nowhere. Even if I borrow someone's cell phone, I can't reach them if they're already on the road. They both refuse to have cells of their own. Maybe, after this, they'll agree to get one.

My hand closes on the one good surprise I've found in my backpack during my search for the charger. Jethro, one of the orphans at Paradis des Enfants, has tucked the little bear my mother knitted for him into my bag. I am too old for stuffed toys, but I am deeply grateful for this selfless gift. Jethro loved his little bear. What a sacrifice it was for him to part with it, to send it home with me. Now I know why he told everyone with such confidence that I would return. Carefully, I zipper the little bear back into my pack, take a deep breath, and walk out into the damp, chill air.

Striking up a conversation at curbside with a couple that left Haiti the same time I did, I learn they live an hour north of Manchester. He's a carpenter and she's a nurse and they've just spent six weeks volunteering in Port au Prince as part of a pledge they made to their church.

Usually I'm not bold, but these people, clearly struggling to handle their excess of luggage, seem safe enough. And I'm still trying to kill time, still waiting for my parents to show up. I offer to go back in and search for one of those metal luggage carts for them. They thank me and watch as I disappear back inside the terminal.

But there are no carts to be found.

Staring out at them through the glass doors, I make a decision. It's looking more and more like my parents aren't going to show. It's possible Monsieur Bellamy couldn't get through, that they don't know I'm here.

When I return to the couple I propose helping them with their bags.

I ask, in exchange, if they could give me a lift to the bus station in town.

I've got my charge card now. I can buy a ticket home. It'll be a great surprise for my parents when I walk through the front door.

Just the suggestion of my getting into their car causes fear to flicker across the face of the wife. All these new rules have set everyone on edge. But the grateful husband says, "Sure, we can give you a ride."

We locate their car on the long-term lot. I'm crammed into the backseat with their luggage shifting around me. On the floor, as I squeeze in, I catch the glint of coins.

Bending over, pretending to retie the heavy boots my parents bought for me to take to Haiti, the boots I never wore the entire time I was there, I pick up two quarters from the car floor and slip them into my sock.

It's only fifty cents. The man would have given it to me. But my cheeks feel hot as I sit back up. I can't believe what I've just done.

The man keeps talking. They haven't noticed that I've stolen their quarters.

He's heard the Internet has been shut down. "The government trying to stop demonstrations on the street," he suggests.

They are careful not to be too critical.

"The government is trying its best," the wife says. "Under the circumstances ..."

* * *

There are concrete barriers all around the bus station. The man pulls up as close to the door as he can.

"Take care," he calls as I leave the car, hoisting my pack up onto my shoulder. I feel the quarters rub against my ankle.

"You, too," I call back. "Thanks for everything."

* * *

The Manchester Transportation Center swarms with soldiers and U.S. Marshals, just like the airport. I spot a pay phone, finally, inside the station and call home using the stolen quarters.

A recording comes on informing me that I've reached a nonworking number. I try to remember other phone numbers, numbers for my aunt in Atlanta, my cousins in Florida, my friend, Janine.

But I never memorized any of those numbers. They were programmed into my cell.

And my cell is dead.

It's been a month since I've heard my parents' voices; about two weeks since their last postcard.

On the front of that card was an image of our cat, Romulus, hanging over the arm of our sofa. On the back my mother had written, "I've got claws and I know how to use them."

It was those words, and then no word at all, and then the assassination of the president of the United States that sent me running home.

I vow to myself that tomorrow Dad and I will go out and get a new charger and this time I'll never lose it. I also vow to memorize important phone numbers from now on. Or at least write them down somewhere and carry them with me.

In the bus station, announcements repeat over a loudspeaker.

"All passengers must submit to a security check before boarding. Travelers wishing to board must first present a completed travel request form. Please have a valid I.D. ready to show. There will be no crossing of state lines without prior government approval. We repeat. There will be no crossing of state lines without prior government approval."

I turn to the man standing beside me. He's wearing a shabby suit and scuffed leather shoes; his long, dark hair is threaded with gray.

"Travel request forms?" I ask. "No crossing state lines?"

"Yeah," he says. "You don't have your papers?"

"I've got a passport, I've got a credit card."

"Where've you been? Under a rock? You're not getting anywhere without authorized travel papers."

I step out of my place in line and attach myself to a group of students leaving the station.

This is madness.

This is the United States.

This doesn't happen here.

But it is happening.

I can't get hold of my parents by phone and without the proper paperwork I can't take the bus.

I've got to get home. Government approval could take days, weeks.

I can't wait that long. Once I'm home everything will be all right. My parents will know what to do.

I just have to get home.

I find a phone booth at a nearby mini-mart and try calling home again. Same message.

You have reached a nonworking number.

I ask inside the store for a map of New Hampshire.

The guy at the register is tapping away at the counter with a pair of chopsticks. He looks my age, seventeen. Maybe a year older. "Those maps down there are free," he says, pointing with a chopstick to a row of brightly colored maps in a wire rack.

Free is good. I open the complimentary map. It's loaded with advertisements.

"I'm heading west," I say. "Maybe on back roads ..."

"In this part of the state there's really only one road running east to west." He squints at the map for a moment or two, then traces a route with his chopstick. "Route 101. It's a fairly straight shot."

"How's the best way to get there?"

He shrugs, embarrassed. "I don't actually know. I don't live in Manchester, just work here. I live in the next town over. Hey, Joanie?"

A middle-aged woman wearing a maroon mini-mart smock comes from somewhere between the aisles. She wears her dyed red hair in a ponytail, her gray roots showing. Her eyes are the color of robin's eggs.

"101?" she asks. She draws a map on a napkin she's plucked from the hot dog counter. "It's not hard, but it's a hike getting there from here."

She has no idea how far I need to go.

"That's okay," I say. "I like walking. Thanks." Besides, I think, Monsieur Bellamy could get through to my parents any time. They could be driving like mad at this very moment, trying to find me.

"Anything else?" the guy asks.

It's been more than a day since I've had any food in my stomach. I put a huge handful of granola bars on the counter and pull out my charge card.

"Sorry," the guy says. "Cash only right now. The lines to the credit card companies are down."

I put the granola bars back on the shelf.

He slides a pack of gum under my hand.

"I can't pay ..." I'm afraid to surrender the quarters. They're all I have.

"It's on me," he says, waving me out the door.

I worry about the boy and the surveillance camera and whether he'll get into trouble for giving me a pack of gum.

His supervisor, Joanie, has vanished into the aisles. But I wonder if she's witnessed what just happened.

My mother wouldn't have let me accept the gum. In fact, when I get home, she'll probably insist on driving back here to pay for it.

At Paradis des Enfants they would break one stick of chewing gum into a dozen pieces so everyone could have a taste.

It's not until I've been walking for an hour or so that I realize the boy at the mini-mart could have called the police on me for shoplifting as I went out the door. It could have been a setup. It wasn't. But it could have been.

I was lucky this time, I guess. Still, I can't rely on luck. I have to be smarter from now on. I have to think from every angle.

* * *

I make myself walk purposefully, not too fast, not too slow.

But then my mind wanders and my pace quickens. I keep thinking about last Friday when Monsieur Bellamy rushed to the orphanage.

"Radley," he cried, breathless. "Radley, someone has assassinated your president!"

Usually I laughed at the ridiculous rumors that masqueraded as "news" from the U.S. But this wasn't funny.

Monsieur Bellamy paced, agitated. "There have been arrests. Many arrests."

I thought about my mother's last card and her comment about having claws and knowing how to use them.

Running to my tiny room on the second floor of the orphanage, I retrieved my cell phone to call my parents, to make certain they were all right. But my cell phone was dead then, too, and there was no power at the orphanage to recharge it.

Monsieur Bellamy said it didn't matter. Phone lines to the U.S. were down anyway.

All I could think of was my parents, what was happening to my parents?

* * *

I realize I am walking too fast, calling attention to myself.

"Slow down. Slow down, Radley," I whisper.

I'm surprised by the small amount of traffic for a city as big as Manchester.


Excerpted from Safekeeping by Karen Hesse. Copyright © 2012 Karen Hesse. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Safekeeping 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
desert_warrior13 More than 1 year ago
I'm big into fantasy, action and adventure, so this book was a different read for me. it's definitely not one of those books that gets a lot of publicity, but rather one that is simple yet creative. It's a book that definitely brings out emotions, and towards the end I found myself crying because of it. When I first bought this book I was a little unsure of it, but I'm very glad I bought it, not only because it was a good book, but because it was different yet very powerful. Although it is short, in my opinion it did do the job to be considered a great book. If you're not into reading about someone's day-to-day life, then this may not be for you. Radley basically mentions everything she thinks and feels, so if you get bored with this, may not be too interesting or worth buying. But it is because of this that brings out strong emotion in the reader and makes it a great story about just another person walking down the street, describing their life.  
bookloverer More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend to anyone who loves books about anarchy or the end of the world as we know it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely worth your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go to mine sixth res
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Owlmanafanatic16 More than 1 year ago
Very good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First of all people stop writing the whole story out. You guys ruin the whole story and also you spoil everything >.< grrrr please stop?like really&hellip;
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Look, if u dont like spoilers dont read reviews. I hate 'Great book' reviews. I want to know WHY its such a gret book. I dont want to buy a book hardly know what its about. I understand npt liking spoilers. But if you dont like them as soon as u see a four page review, close it. It most likely has spoilers.
DanceBree17 More than 1 year ago
This book was a very confusing read, but the ending seems comforting enough, even with the turmoil that goes on between the covers. We pick up Radley trying to return to the U.S. after being in Haiti volunteering to help the refugees. Chaos has erupted in the U.S. and military law has locked things down, even as thugs roam the streets. Its hard to see the world that Radley encounters, and even harder to realize that shes all alone in the world, unable to locate her parents. She is forced to walk everywhere, trying to survive on scraps and what she can find in nature. But along the long walk from her home to Canada, she meets Celia ans together they cross the border and try to survive. I loved the photos that are in the book, they tell so much and match really well with the content of the book around them. This is a hard book to go through, the dark world it puts you in is depressing. But there are rays of light, the kind people that help them, and the fact that Radley still feels the call to help others. That is the most inspiring part, that Radley can still feel the desire to help even though her world is such a mess. The ending is nice, but it seems confusing and short.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No substance.
Rumor_Has_It More than 1 year ago
Radley is volunteering in Haiti when the President of the United States has been assassinated and all hell has broken loose. Radley is focused on one thing&hellip; getting home to her parents. I was quite intrigued with the synopsis. I started reading this book and I couldn&rsquo;t put it down. The story is told in three parts symbolizing the three phases of Radley&rsquo;s adventure/story. The first third of the book is fast paced consisting of Radley traveling back into the States to reunite with her parents. My adrenaline was pumping and my anxiety was at about 100 because like Radley, I too wanted to get back to her parents and find out what happened. It was written that well. It does lose a bit of momentum after that initial rush but all in all, the story was engaging, coercing me into turning the pages at rapid speed. Imagine my surprise when I was left in a confused state of mind upon finishing this book and thinking of a 3.5 rating. It wasn&rsquo;t difficult to believe in a United States that has been broken. It wasn&rsquo;t difficult to believe that any part of this book could and would happen. What was difficult to believe was that we never learn about the American People&rsquo;s Party, why they took over, why the assassination, and a world of other questions pertaining to a very broken United States happening in real time&hellip; The world building was non-existent in this book. These questions were what motivated me to keep on reading because I kept thinking that eventually all these questions would be answered. Perhaps not in part one or even part two but part three? Surely in part three. They were not. Something else that was off; the pictures that were introduced in part two of the book. I think I would have liked them more if they had been placed in the book from the beginning. I know why they were plugged in when they were but they didn&rsquo;t always make sense. As always I recommend that you read this one and let me know what you think because you might like it more than me. I was expecting more but it just fell short with me. On to the next one! ARC was provided by Feiwel &amp; Friends via NetGalley.