Title: Safe with Me
Author: Amy Hatvany
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Ever since Emily was born, she’s been the center of Hannah’s world. When her daughter dies in a tragic accident, though, Hannah’s world comes apart. The one solace Hannah has is the knowledge that though her daughter is gone, other children are alive because of Emily’s organs. One of these kids is fifteen-year-old Maddie, who is finally getting the chance to embark on a normal life. But Maddie feels anything but normal as she goes to high school for the first time and must also manage her father’s rages and her mother, Olivia’s, refusal to stand up to them. When chance brings Hannah, Olivia, and Maddie together, will Hannah find a new family, or will a deception ruin everything?
Amy Hatvany once again deals with serious issues, such as the death of a child and spousal abuse, in this smart, compulsively readable novel. Fans of Hatvany’s will enjoy her sharp writing while those new to her books will appreciate the depth of her work.
Amy Hatvany has taken on some difficult issues in her novels, such as alcoholism, disability, and homelessness, and Safe with Me is no exception. This time, it’s Hannah’s grief at the death of her child, Olivia’s acceptance of her husband’s abuse for the sake of her daughter, and Maddie’s troubles with the life of a normal teenager. Readers will appreciate how smart and thoughtful this novel is as Hatvany deftly writes these difficult and troublesome situations in intricate and believable ways.
Each of these characters is fully fleshed out, and readers will sympathize with each of them. It would be so easy to blame Hannah for her inability to move on, to blame Olivia for not getting herself out of a horrible situation, and to write off Maddie as experiencing trivial teen issues, yet Hatvany doesn’t allow the reader to do that. She delves deep into each of them, bringing them to life for the reader. Their struggles become the reader’s struggles; it’s so easy to become emotionally invested in this book and these characters. Even when they make bad decisions (which happens often—after all, they’re realistic), it’s sympathy rather than frustration that the reader feels. These characters are incredibly well done and are a testament to Hatvany’s writing prowess.
“Women’s fiction” these days has a bit of a negative connotation, but it doesn’t have to. Fiction aimed at a female audience can be just as smart, savvy, and sharp as any other genre, which Amy Hatvany proves with Safe with Me. It’s easy to enjoy this novel while also contemplating the many questions it provokes. Book clubs should take note of this title, though readers may want to have a box of tissues at hand while reading.
Other books by Amy Hatvany: