Newbery Medal-winning author Karen Hesse is known for tales of characters finding rays of hope in situations of despair. In Safekeeping, Hesse envisions a future United States torn apart by civil war. Teenage Radley, returning to Vermont after volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti, looks forward to her parents meeting her at the airport. But her parents are missing—and her credit card and cell phone are useless. Strangers are wary, daylight curfews are violently enforced and the police may be chasing her. Hoping her parents have sought sanctuary in Canada, Radley heads north.
Along the way, Radley cautiously befriends the secretive Celia and her loyal dog, Jerry Lee. As the three travelers seek safety, shelter and food, they also struggle with defining their new identities, accepting their past regrets and learning to live in a world where the rules have suddenly and irrevocably changed.
Fifty of Hesse’s original black-and-white photographs accompany the narration. The photographs, which include panoramic views of landscapes, ghostly images of abandoned buildings and close-up shots of ordinary objects, enhance the story. Sometimes they directly illustrate Radley’s world; other times they set the tone or invite further reflection on a theme.
Readers looking for an introspective view of a post-apocalyptic world, or who enjoyed the use of photographs in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, won’t want to miss this latest example of an emerging form of young adult literature.