Friday, November 16, 2012

'Safekeeping' haunting Y/A novel about undying spirit

    Teenager Radley has been volunteering in a Haitian orphanage when the American president is assassinated and the government collapses in “Safekeeping,” a young adult novel by Karen Hesse. When Radley attempts to return home and her plane lands in New Hampshire, she finds it difficult to reach Vermont and her parents with police raids, looting and government demands. Her cell phone is dead and her credit cards useless, so she begins a long journey home by foot, hiding out in barns and eating from dumpsters.
    When she finally makes it home, there is no resolution, and so begins the second half of the story, with Radley attempting to make it through a world turned upside down.
    “Safekeeping” is illustrated with Hesse’s 50 black and white photographs, adding haunting detail to a frightening scenario. In the end, however, the book reveals the undying spirit and determination of a young American girl.
    Hesse is the winner of the MacArthur Genuis Award and a Newbery Medal Award for “Out of the Dust.” She is the author of more than 20 books for children.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at