Monday, July 07, 2008

Safe by Susan Shaw

This novel, like The Missing Girl and Wake, is nominated for Best Book for Young Adults. While the previous two novels failed to impress me, Safe captured the emotion and pain of the situation that makes it stand out.

Tracy is a thirteen year old girl who had her life turned upside down on the last day of seventh grade. On her way home from school she was kidnapped and left physically and emotionally scarred. During the summer she then struggles to feel safe again, finding strength in playing the piano and the constant presence of her father. The only problem, though, is that she loses disconnects herself from her best friends and things she used to love, unable to handle people's looks of pity and chooses to be alone even though people try to help her. Just when she finds herself staying afloat, the impending trial causes her world to spin out of control again.

What actually happens to Tracy is left rather ambiguous until the end when she utters the one word that tells it all. Without even saying the word rape, the damage that her attacker did left its mark and the reader can't help but sympathize for her. Her desire to simply feel safe is so powerful that you almost want to wrap her in your arms and tell her it will be okay. She keeps thinking that she can avoid it and pretend it never happened, but I think that everyone knows that if you don't face it, the problem will come back and swallow you whole, which it does. I felt as though this novel did a great job capturing the pain that a person goes through when put in this situation. I liked how Tracy refers to other girl because she's not the same after what happened. Even though she's only thirteen, I this novel is one that rape victims could relate to. It might even give them strength because even though Tracy doesn't undergo some miraculous cure, she sees that there's light at the end of the tunnel, which I think victims need to be reminded of.

If you're looking for something light and airy, Safe is not the book for you. It is a good book, though, one that makes you think and feel, as well as be grateful for the safety you already have without even trying.

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