Safekeeping

Safekeeping - Karen Hesse My life settles into a surreal routine. At random times each day the police park outside the house, stride up the front path, climb the porch steps, and pound on the door. Each day I press against the attic wall, hidden from sight, my heart thudding, waiting for them to go away.When she hears of the political takeover and assassination in the States, Radley returns from volunteering abroad to find an empty house and a world which has changed drastically. No longer able to rely on her parents, her cell phone, or her credit card, she heads back out on the road towards Canada, where she feels she can be safe.This book had the beginnings of an epic adventure. The author sets up an America for us that is full of paranoia and danger, where all the conventional things that we rely on from day to day are removed, and each person must fend for him or herself. The idea of correlating Radley's travels with real-life photography intrigued me, and added another dimension to the story as we saw the world through her eyes (though at times, I'll admit, I was confused as to the photography selection choices... were they supposed to be what Radley saw? Or were they her mother's photographs? If so, why exclude the picture of Julian?)The execution of this, however, was disappointing. The world that was set up by the author had some serious plot holes, and the photography didn't correlate with the story as well as I'd have liked. A few of the inconsistencies about this book's America --- Credit cards don't work and gas stations have run out of gas, yet restaurants are still not only in operation, but have surplus in their dumpsters. How did the food supplies arrive at the restaurant in the first place?- The police daily knock upon Radley's door (later we find out their reasons were NOT as sinister as Radley assumes), but don't at any point leave a message for her to find about WHY they were there?- Radley becomes a homeless, destitute traveler and goes hungry for days, yet can't stop thinking about the orphanage in Haiti... as if there aren't going to be plenty of orphans that need care in her own calamity-stricken country that she could be helping?Aside from those issues, the book simply did not live up to my expectations. Perhaps if I had gone into it knowing I was in for a more wandering, contemplative narrative, full of meandering memories and the day-to-day life of teens settling into a life of undisturbed hiding, then I would have appreciated the prose and reflections more, but I kept waiting for something to happen (they're discovered! they're arrested! they have to turn themselves in or starve!), and thus was a bit let down. It's even still unclear to me what the purpose of the novel was. I know we're supposed to see Radley become more self-sufficient, but really she just transfers her reliance from her parents to "Our Lady of the Barn," their benefactress who provides them with pretty much everything they need. One could say that she now things of others ahead of herself, yet the fact remains that she ends the novel in the same place as she begins it, perhaps with more appreciation for what she has and with the ability to do without more worldly possessions, but the resolution left me dissatisfied nonetheless.Overall: Don't mistake this for an action-packed, Divergent/Hunger Games dystopia; but if you're in the mood for contemplation, this may be a book for you.