Safe by S.K. Barnett

What are the things that make you feel safe? 2020 has been a year of fear and uncertainty for many, and the idea of safety seems to be one worth exploring. COVID-19 has become an all-encompassing subject, one that promotes much debate, unpredictability, and even fear. I'll admit that my own anxiety levels have increased this week as the number of cases has rapidly risen in my own state. Safety has become a paramount priority for me and my family.  The ability to transition to working from home again after a month of being back at work certainly plays into my sense of security. However small it may seem, wearing my mask when I venture out into public also makes me feel safe. Beyond COVID-19, I find safety in the routine things like cooking dinner, playing with my dog, and falling into the story of a really good book. It seems no coincidence that this week's read is appropriately titled Safe by S.K Barnett. I was gifted a copy of the book from the publisher and was eager to dig into this intriguing thriller.

It has been nearly twelve years since little Jenny Kristal disappeared. The six-year-old was walking from her family home to a sleepover at a friend's house when she was snatched from the streets, never to be seen again. Her parents immediately began the search for their daughter while struggling to hold things together for the sake of their son, Jenny's younger brother Ben. But twelve years is a long time. Even the most optimistic person would have a hard time believing Jenny would ever return home. Parents Laurie and Jake are starting to run out of hope. At a certain point, it may be best to simply move on.

Things change when a woman claiming to be Jenny is found by the police. She seems to fit the description of the missing child. She has the same blonde hair, same age, same dimples when she smiles, and she can even recall details from her life before the abduction. The woman tells a story of escaping from her abusive captors and making her way back home to safety. Laurie and Jake are quick to accept that their daughter has returned. Ben is a bit more skeptical. Years of being apart have been hard, but the return of Jenny means the family is finally all back together. Jenny is finally safe. Or is she?

In Safe author S.K. Barnett brings a different take on a classic missing person mystery. Rather than focusing on the time of looking for the kidnapped child, Barnett picks up the story when the family is reunited. The novel digs deep into what comes after the happily ever after, revealing that the resolution of the years-long case is hardly the end of the story. The joyful reunion between parent and child soon gives way to drama, paranoia, and fear. Barnett deftly writes compelling character development while still filling the book with the twists and turns that make it a truly page-turning thriller. The revelations about each character intertwine with the driving plot, propelling the novel forward at a rapid pace. Flashbacks are interspersed with the present-day story, providing ample context about the events that lead up to the story without giving away any of the shocks that follow. As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the world, I'm happy to fall into the comfort of a good book like Safe by S.K. Barnett.

For more information visit Amazon and Goodreads.
(2020, 27)

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39 Responses to “Safe by S.K. Barnett”

  1. Hmm. I feel safe when I'm home with my kiddos. When we're in the backyard or walking around the neighborhood. I've been trying to take them on hikes now that there have been some reopenings, but we're usually the only ones wearing masks. It makes trails, playgrounds, and walks around the lake feel dangerous. People will invade your space, talk to you, and just UGH. THERE'S A PANDEMIC. I'm glad you've been able to find things that make you feel safe and happy. :)

    I can't read books like this! Ever since having my own children, reading books about them being abducted or killed destroy me. I can't take it! I'm happy it was a propelling read for you though!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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  2. I agree with you on this one. I would feel a lot safer if the public at large would just abide by the restrictions in place. It astounds me how many people will get closer than 6 feet to me in public, especially when they aren't wearing a mask!

    I can see how being a parent would make thrillers like this one a bit too real to be able to enjoy.

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  3. So true. Only in the past 15 years or so have I gotten worried in large crowds after shootings and terrorist attacks..no I can't fathom going to the mall let alone a baseball game because of the virus. If only people would wear masks and keep distance.

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    1. That is the most frustrating thing about this whole pandemic. We know what we need to do to keep everyone safe, but people still aren't doing those things.

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  4. I always find missing person mysteries so interesting.

    Safety has surely taken on a whole new meaning this year. Once upon a time it felt like there was safety in numbers. Now the exact opposite is true. I go out when I must, keep my distance, and otherwise stay safely inside.

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    1. That is such an interesting point. I used to think of safety as being something gained in a community, but now we have to isolate ourselves to keep everyone safe and healthy.

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  5. I've given as much thought to safety now as I did when I had family involved in war. I guess fighting off a virus is a war of sorts. I never was one for crowds, but now I get my business done and get home disinfecting when I do. Even going to my nephew's baseball game and sitting isolated in the bleachers felt weird to me because I was out around people who want 'normal' so badly that they aren't being careful. You're right that the mask does help with the anxiety.

    The mystery sounds the intriguing 'is she or isn't she?' sort. Glad it was a good one, Ethan.

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    1. This definitely is a kind of war, only our enemy is invisible. Our county judge has described it as an invisible Hurricane, something we are all too familiar with in South Texas.

      This mystery certainly kept me guessing!

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  6. I take comfort in books, too. Especially these days when nothing feels very safe. This book sounds like one I would really like. :)

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    1. It is very reassuring to know that I can escape into a good book!

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  7. I've sure been trying to do more reading lately especially since there are more cases of Covid here. I don't go out much to begin with but it's even less now.

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    1. Same here. I'm usually a homebody anyway, but this has forced me to take things to the next level.

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  8. A good comfort book like that Is truly needed right now

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    1. Agreed. I need to get lost in books now more than ever!

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  9. Because OF COURSE the minute I say I am finally caught up on recs from you...you post another one I want to read!

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    1. I was thinking the same thing lol. This one might be a little less well known at least!

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    2. I put in for a hold, and it says 'restricted access' on the library website so I am not sure if that just means not all the copies are available for check out, or what. But I am in line at least!

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    3. Up to #4 on 2 copies for this one - only had physical copies to check out. This restricted access thing is KILLING me.

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  10. Is it really a happy ending if you come back home twelve years later?! Wow, that's a lot of time for damage to set in, and yet there are similar cases, right? I'm curious how this all turned out.

    The uptick in cases is disturbing, right? Seems like they won't shut things down again, though. Let's hope for a safe vaccine soon, Ethan!

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    1. I think of those news stories showing the young women who were held captive for so many years. I feel like we never really hear about what happens to them afterwards. It really isn't any of our business anyway, but I thought this book had a very unique take on the situation.

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  11. This is a difficult time, and I try not to judge, but do what I need to do to feel safe. It seems most are picking and choosing what they want to follow, when they want to follow anyhow.

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    1. I just worry about the people who have chosen to do nothing in response to all of this. This is a singular time where we must all work together to move past this virus!

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  12. I've read a few books with this premise, some well done, others not so much. This one sounds like the former, so I'll definitely check it out. Probably one of the reasons I find these kinds of books so intriguing and scary is because one of the things that makes me feel safe is having all my children at home where I can see them. Kidnapping books definitely use those very human fears to create compelling fiction!

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    1. There is great comfort in having all of your loved ones near. I know my mom loves when all of us kids are back home under one roof.

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  13. I too feel safe when I get lost in the pages of a good book...

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    1. I'm so thankful that there have been so many solid new releases lately.

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  14. Books are providing a safe escape.

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  15. Not my normal read but it sounds interesting!

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  16. Love that this book is about the - after. You would think coming home is the end of the story but there's so much to still explore in that.

    It's weird with COVID that safety is somehow controversial?? Or debatable.

    I stick to going out early or to somewhere outdoors, like parks where I can maintain a wide distance. Always wear my mask and try to go places that adhere to their own policies. I know people want things to open but if we all showed a little respect we would all feel safer and that could happen on a wider scale. The defiance is what's making this all take longer.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. You've hit the nail on the head. We all just need to work through this together. The sooner we all agree to respect each other and adhere to the guidelines in place, the sooner we can put this all behind us.

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  17. I have to go into the office tomorrow and I am genuinely anxious about it. I know what I have to do to be safe, but it's trusting everyone else to do what they're supposed to that I can't quite manage to.

    I like that this book focuses on the after, and on what happens to the family. The blurb on Goodreads certainly poses some interesting questions about the truth of her return. Fantastic, thoughtful review, Ethan!

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    1. I share your anxiety with having to go back into work. I'm so thankful that my company decided it was best for us to start working from home again. The lack of compliance from others was really quite alarming.

      As for this book, I think it did a really great job of telling the "what happens next" story. Thanks for stopping in!

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  18. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm so glad both my partner and I can work from home and don't have to try and somehow navigate the London Underground...it would make me much too anxious!

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    1. I'm glad you both are staying safe! I've been on the Underground there several times, and I can't imagine having to social distance.

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  19. Ooh this sounds so super good. I like that it takes place once the family is reunited and then adds in the mystery and paranoia, etc.

    As for what makes me feel safe - masks in public, like you said. Being able to escape into a good book. Being in a house with my family and not on my own. Being able to cuddle with my cat.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I agree with you on all the things that make you feel safe! Nothing beats cuddles with the cat!

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