Book Review: Safe With Me

Hannah: Hannah’s life was irrevocably changed the instant her twelve-year old daughter, Emily, was hit by a car while riding her bike. Her only comfort comes from knowing that her daughter’s death was not in vain, as Hannah decided to donate Emily’s organs. Now, a year has passed, and Hannah is still going through the motions as she grieves the loss of Emily. She’s attempting to re-build her life when Olivia and Maddie walk through the doors of her newly renovated salon. As she listens to Olivia describe Maddie’s situation – a young girl who up until recently was home bound due to her being very ill – Hannah cannot help but wonder if Maddie is the recipient of Emily’s liver. Desperate for answers, but not willing to divulge her suspicions quite yet, Hannah befriends Olivia and Maddie and is able to find a closeness that she never expected. But what happens when her deception comes to light?

Olivia: To the outsider, Olivia has it all. A great house, a wonderful, successful husband who is able to financially support her to the point where Olivia doesn’t need to work, and lastly, a healthy daughter. For the past eight or so years, Olivia’s daughter Maddie has been sick; however because of an unknown family’s loss, Maddie is given the second chance of life. There’s only one problem. Olivia does not have it all. She’s careful to hide the bruises from her daughter and from everyone else in her life; quick to keep up the facade of a perfect family – and husband. It leaves Olivia lonely. And then fate brings Hannah into their lives. The two begin to craft a friendship as Olivia opens up to Hannah about James’s abuse. And then Olivia’s world comes crashing down. Hannah is the mother of the liver donor who saved Maddie’s life. If James finds out that Olivia brought Hannah into their lives, he’ll go ballistic and there’s no telling what he’ll do. How can Olivia keep Maddie – and herself – safe and not lose the one true friend she’s made in a long time?

Maddie: At sixteen, Maddie is finally able to live her life as a teenager out in the world instead of as a patient in a hospital, waiting for death to take her. But Maddie knows nothing in life is simple, for consider the cruel irony surrounding her own circumstances. Someone had to die in order for Maddie to live. And yet, Maddie is not really living. Not yet. She spends more time behind her computer screen fabricating a fake persona than interacting with her peers. Of course, her fellow students don’t make her transition easy. Her first day at school is a disaster and leaves her hysterical. Olivia suggests a makeover, which brings them into Hannah’s orbit. Maddie immediately feels a kinship with Hannah – as does Olivia. Only Maddie could never fathom why, until that is, she sends a thank you letter to the donor’s family….and Hannah reveals it is she who is the family of the organ donor.

In Safe With Me, Amy Hatvany tells a powerful story about two mothers and their daughters that is sure to pack the emotional punches. What starts off as a slow tale quickly evolves into a story that could easily have a devastating ending as the lives of Hannah, Olivia, and Maddie begin to spiral, both together and apart.

Safe With Me masterfully intertwines suspense and mystery into a novel about second chances, forgiveness, friendship, and most of all, healing.

Rating: Four-and-a-half stars.

Book Review 1: Please Ignore Vera Dietz

I’m pretty sure the reason I flock to YA (young adult) fiction so often is because somewhere I’m still an angst-filled sixteen year old (the part of me who wears graphic t’s and jeans really). I just don’t feel like I’ve accomplished enough to relate to books about 20-somethings who start out in search of something and then well, actually find something by the end of the book, because life doesn’t work like that.

You know it. I know it. We all know it, even Hollywood knows it which is why they choose to make  movies about it to inspire people. Yeah, well, I remain uninspired.

But YA novels just speak to me more and are generally more entertaining. That’s not to say I don’t read adult fiction, but more often than not, when I need to do a little bit of soul searching, I’ll read a YA book instead.

Having read A.S. King’s Ask the Passengers back in November, I had a pretty decent idea of the author’s style of writing, and I had a good feeling  I would therefore enjoy Please Ignore Vera Dietz.

PIVD is the story of high school senior, Vera Dietz, who has been dealing with the death of her best friend (and possible true love) Charlie Khan. While Vera is devastated by her BFF’s death, she’s also conflicted because before he died, Charlie turned against Vera in the cruel way that teenagers do, in the way you hope they look back when they have developed some perspective on the matter and realize how much of an asshole they were. Unfortunately, Charlie never gets that chance, at least not in person.

Throughout the novel, which is mostly is told through Vera’s POV, we get a picture of a lonely teenager who is trying to escape her own destiny, and how much destiny really plays a part in who you are as well as who you become. But as much as the book is about finding a way to not become the person you think you were destined to be, it is also about Vera coming to terms with her future, a future that doesn’t include the one person she thought she could trust forever.

What I like about PIVD is that it is told through different perspectives, not just Vera’s, although she is the main voice. We get insight from Charlie, as well as Vera’s dad, and the town itself. A bit of cynicism mixed with humor, love, hate, death, life, and forgiveness, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is truly a memorable novel and one that should not just fall under the category of “just a YA book.”

King truly knows how to speak to people of all ages, and because of that, I highly recommend this book.