Written By: Amy Hatvany
Published By: Washington Square Press an imprint of Simon and Schuster March 4, 2014
Length: 352 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
This story of two mothers begins when Hannah Scott hears the screams of her twelve year old daughter Emily. As only a mother can discern she races to find her daughter’s body and bike thrown to the side of the road. When Hannah is told that Emily is brain dead, she is in shock, but makes the brave and generous choice to donate her organs, feeling that Emily’s legacy and life can live on through the recipients. This is a gut wrenching decision.
In a nearby hospital Olivia Bell sits with her very ill fifteen year old daughter Maddie, she is told they might have a liver donor. Trying not to become too optimistic Olivia carries on normal mother daughter teen angst conversation with her daughter. Maddie isn’t like most teens, living most of her life at home, being tutored and sheltered. She’s recently discovered the power of facebook, and creating the person she wishes she was gives her a new sense of being. When confirmation of the new liver is revealed there is joy in the Bell family, and a sense of careful exhilaration. Olivia’s husband, James, adds an ominous feel to what should be a happy time.
A year later changes are happening everywhere. Naturally life changes forever for Hannah, her business partner and best friend, Sophie, always by her side. They own a hair salon and Hanna is in the process of remodeling an old home to become their second salon. Maddie is well enough to return to a real school, and the tension between Olivia and James continues, and the revelation of what is really happening is frightening. Then something happens, and nothing will ever be the same for either family.
I have read all of Amy Hatvany’s books, and I eagerly anticipated this fifth novel with a sense of coming home to a warm and comfortable place…certain I’d be lost in Amy’s words and story in no time. I was not disappointed. Amy tells two stories in Safe with Me, both families broken in different ways, and both needing to be healed.
As a mother my heart was aching for Hannah and the death of her daughter, dear lord our children are not supposed to die before we do. I can’t imagine that pain, and yet Amy wrote of this emptiness with such sensitivity and realistic emotion I could feel the love. Hannah is almost renewed in spirit when she meets Olivia and Maddie and realizes their connection. Torn between telling them, and keeping it private she realizes she really likes Olivia as a friend. She also senses a deep secret Olivia is carrying.
The abusive relationship between Olivia and James is startling, and Amy Hatvany spares nothing in the telling of this horrendous abuse. James is financially powerful and his behavior says he believes he is in charge of all things in his life, including his attempt to control the thoughts, words and actions of his wife and daughter.
This is the most powerful of Amy Hatvany’s novels, bringing me to tears many times. I wanted to reach out and intervene myself in the lives of her characters. I felt compassion and concern for Hannah, Olivia and Maddie, for James I felt hatred. I highly recommend this book, it will leave your thoughts for some time. Please visit Amy’s website for a look at all her books and see if may be visiting your area.
Thank you Atria, Simon & Schuster and Wendy Sheanin for the advanced copy of this book.