We know it's not a secret that we heart Amy Hatvany. But even we were blown away by her latest novel Safe With Me! It was incredibly thought provoking and satisfying--we ugly cried near the end but it was all worth it! Seriously, READ THIS BOOK! NOW! So, of course, it was a no-brainer to choose it as our book club pick for March--we are quite certain that y'all will love it as much as we did. And guess what? We have a copy of Safe With Me to giveaway! Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win. The contest will close on March 8th at 8am PST.
The scoop: The screech of tires brought Hannah Scott’s world as she knew it to a devastating end. A year after she signed the papers to donate her daughter’s organs, Hannah is still reeling with grief when she unexpectedly stumbles into the life of the Bell family, whose fifteen-year-old daughter, Maddie, survived only because Hannah’s daughter had died. Mesmerized by this fragile connection to her own daughter and afraid to reveal who she actually is, Hannah develops a surprising friendship with Maddie’s mother, Olivia.
The Bells, however, have problems of their own. Once on the verge of leaving her wealthy but abusive husband, Olivia now finds herself bound to him in the wake of the transplant that saved their daughter’s life. Meanwhile, Maddie, tired of the limits her poor health puts upon her and fearful of her father’s increasing rage, regularly escapes into the one place where she can be anyone she wants: the Internet. But when she is finally healthy enough to return to school, the real world proves to be just as complicated as the isolated bubble she had been so eager to escape.
Liz & Lisa's Book Club: Safe With Me by Amy Hatvany
It was excruciating, really. I had the first scene in my head long before I began writing and it haunted me. The idea of losing one of my children is the most painful thing I could imagine. Not too far into the story, I realized right along with Hannah, who loses her daughter, Emily, that children who lose their parents are orphans, spouses are either widows or widowers, but there is no word for a parent who loses a child. A profound finding, I thought, and totally understandable. The significance of that kind of loss is simply too devastating to fit into one word.
2. Olivia's daughter, Maddie, is such a great character and so believable--do you draw from experience with your own teenager?
With Maddie, I wanted to explore how social media tends to create this false image of perfection in our lives. People typically only post their prettiest pictures, their happiest moments. We end up comparing our insides–our insecurities and struggles–with what I like to call other peoples’ “Photo-shopped” outsides. I thought about the rising influx of cat-fishing stories in the news–people pretending to be someone other than who they actually were online–and wanted to point out how dangerous and appealing this might be to a teenager, who by nature already struggles with insecurity and are desperate to fit in.
I think more teens are turning to the internet to escape the realities of life. With smart phones, especially, it’s all too easy for them to do. With my teenagers, I can see firsthand how the way they define themselves and the world around them is shifting according to everything they do and see online. I worry about it the long term effects of this shift, but social media has become so all-encompassing, so all-consuming, I’m not sure there’s any way to stop it.
3. SAFE WITH ME is such an original story idea--what was the inspiration?
It actually came from an article I read over a decade ago, about a woman in New York city who was having her home remodeled. She became friendly with one of the workers and as the two of them got to know each other, she shared the fact that her husband was recovering from a kidney transplant. When the worker told her that he had actually donated one of his own kidneys to a stranger the previous year, they compared surgery dates and doctors names and it turned out that the worker was the person who saved the woman’s husband’s life.
I still get chills thinking about the two of them coincidentally crossing paths. The story idea grew from there.
4. You had us blubbering with tears in more than one chapter--what were your own emotions while writing those passages?
I definitely blubbered right along with you during a few of those more emotional passages, but I also found myself chuckling during others, especially some of the stuff that Maddie thinks about or says. The line, “God would have to be a total asshole to strike me down in the middle of a giggle” was so completely something my teenage daughter, Scarlett, would say if she had a life-threatening illness, I could help but laugh every time I read it.
5. SAFE WITH ME was exquisite and we can't for the next one! What is up next for you?
I’m currently working on revisions for my 2015 release and making notes and doing research for the book I want to write after that. Since I never really know where I might find inspiration, I do sometimes worry that another idea won’t come along, but so far, I’ve been lucky. One always does.