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.