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Safe and Sound

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Member Reviews

"Safe and sound" follows two sisters, Amelia and Kylee, as they unravel the mystery behind their cousin Grace's disappearance six years ago. The use of dual povs from Amelia/Kylee and Grace gave us more insight to the story, allowing us to see the events leading up to the disappearance.

The author did a great job at creating a tense and eerie atmosphere in the small town of Beaumont, where everyone seemed to be hiding something. The build up was great and with each new character introduced, the suspense built up steadily.

But I think the storylines of some of these characters were drawn out too long. I understand what the author was trying to do but after all the suspenseful build up behind the characters, majority of them added up to nothing and instead left some loose ends untied.

The ending also felt very rushed and anticlimactic. It was still a gripping read but I was hoping for a more satisfying resolution.

3.25 stars ⭐

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the eArc!

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Six years prior, Grace Crow was a bright-eyed high school student on the brink of graduating and going off to college out-of-state. However, she disappeared in the dead of night while babysitting her sleeping cousins, Amelia and Kylee, and left blood all over the kitchen. Her case was never solved.

Flash forward to the present where Amelia and Kylee were on the verge of graduating high school themselves. A confession from a former teacher and a set of human remains found nearby spurred the girls to investigate Grace’s disappearance themselves.

Safe and Sound was such a sensational dark and gritty thriller! I found this book to be certifiably unputdownable and finished it in record time. I loved all three of the female main characters, however, I felt most connected to Grace. Prior to her disappearance, she served as a much-needed Mother figure for her young cousins. I also really admired her strength and resilience throughout the story. This book covers some pretty heavy subject matter, so please be aware of that going into it. With that being said, I loved this one and would highly recommend picking up a copy once it’s released!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the opportunity to read this ARC!

A copy of this review will be shared to my Instagram account (whats.amy.reading) the week of March 25.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced copy.

I love Laura McHugh. She's from Missouri, she writes mystery thrillers. She had a Gillian Flynn vibe when I first started reading her. The Weight of Blood and What's Done in Darkness were both good reads for me. I knew she would be an author I would always read. And even though Safe and Sound wasn't my favorite, I will still continue reading what she writes. I like her too much to stop.

BUT. And there is a big but. This book bugged the crap out of me. Amelia and Kylee (especially Kylee) were hard to like. The entire Crow family was less than pleasant. I know they were obviously written this way for a purpose. There was so much repetition. "Mama will cook for uncle Norman," "no one ever leaves this town," "mama's breaking her body to work," and "how can you even think about leaving this town?" These and more were shoved down our throats in almost every chapter. (Okay, maybe not every chapter, but it was A LOT!). Grace's narrations were well written and the most intense out of everything. I was genuinely nervous whenever she'd start her narration. But storylines were drawn out way too long, or they weren't continued and should have been. What about Javi? What about Jimmy? And for the love of all that is holy, why have the character of Alan and not give us anything in the end?

And the end. Oh, my friends. I've been disappointed in a lot of endings (The Maidens, Girl on the Train, Exiles), but this one was especially sad. I wanted and needed so much more. It was weirdly anticlimatic. It made NO sense. All of a sudden there was just this new character that was thrown in. And not even a good character or a character that made sense to the rest of the story. I know what McHugh was trying to do, but there was this sense of urgency to just end the story and it's so disappointing when authors do that.

I'm so sad.

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I've read every book by Laura Hugh, and this is a good one. It has a lot of the same elements we see in her other books - female lead, family issues, poor people in a poor town, people wanting to get out of town. But at the heart of it is a story of two sisters who will do anything to leave and love each other fiercely. They miss their cousin, who went missing when she was baby-sitting, and want to figure out what happened to her. There are a lot of twists and turns, and I could not have anticipated the ending at all, and if anyone says they did, they are total liars in my opinion, but I can't decide how I feel about it. It seems a little too...convenient? Fantastical? I don't know but I was overall really happy with the book. I think it must be incredibly difficult to write a story where the reader doesn't see everything coming, and I always appreciate that. When I think of Laura McHugh, I don't think of a flashy writer - I feel like she's more of a solid, reliable writer. I enjoy her books, I never try to guess the ending but I don't think I could if I tried, and she comes out with new books regularly, which I appreciate.

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Cousins Amelia and Kylee were just little kids six years ago when their older cousin Grace disappeared while babysitting them. She was never found. But her legacy lives on through Amelia and Kylee, who aim to follow her last wish and get out of Beaumont, the dead-end small town they live in where nothing is ever expected of anyone. When a young woman’s body is found, the girls vow to find out once and for all what happened to Grace before they graduate high school and leave Beaumont behind. But the person responsible for her abduction is most likely closer to home than they ever imagined.

The story is told from two POVs: Amelia and Kylees in the present; and Graces in the past telling her life story and leading up to her disappearance.

Laura McHugh is a genius at telling a haunting, engrossing story that just pulls you in and keeps you turning pages late into the night. It’s so engrossing and realistic I almost hesitate to recommend it to people who grew up in a one-industry rural town, like I did, and like the one depicted in the story, because MAN did she nail it. It was eerie.

The central mystery was amazing and multifaceted. There’s a lot of moving parts, so there’s plenty of twists, turns, and suspects that keep you guessing. I know some other reviews didn’t like the semi-ambiguous ending, but I felt was complete enough that we understood what would happen next. Of course I can’t tell you any of that, but the author lays out the terms fairly clearly, and we can extrapolate from there. That’s not always my choice for an ending either, but it is what it is in this case.

This was such a great book and brilliant addition to McHugh’s already excellent literary canon of work. I highly recommend it, and then suggest checking out her other work.

You won’t be disappointed!

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This is a dual timeline story about girls the same family in the same small town trying to escape. One disappears and the others set out to find out what happened to her. I enjoyed reading this book. The story is compelling but a little uneven. Laura McHugh is a reliably good author.

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Safe and Sound (Hardcover)
by Laura McHugh
The story of cyclical struggles of poverty, small towns and social experiences. The lives of three cousins born in separate decades us only the beginning. The oldest cousin has a horrific childhood. She does everything to protect her younger cousins. She babysits, and cares for them all her life. Yet they are the ones who give her the greatest protection. Safe and sound shows that our intentions affect the things we do. When we look out for others we find the strength to go against the worst odds. Although a dark story it shows the resilience of human nature. That we can break the chains of poverty, abuse, and neglect. Its our choice to stay in a negative cycle, and our choice to risk leaving it.

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Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House for the copy of Safe And Sound by Laura McHugh. The story started out great, and I liked the character development. As the book went on, there were so many characters and so much going on, it got overwhelming for me. The big reveal was shocking, but it came out of nowhere, so I wish there had been more clues. This was still a good read, and I think readers will love the big reveal! 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

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This was another excellent mystery/thriller/family drama from Laura McHugh. I loved the dual timelines of Grace in the past and Kylee & Amelia in the present, trying to figure out what happened to her. Some of Grace's chapters were very hard to read - the abuse she suffered was so awful. I would have liked an epilogue to give some closure to the characters. Thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC.

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Laura McHugh's "Safe and Sound" swept me away into its deep, emotional currents from the very start, leaving an indelible mark on my soul. It weaves a gripping narrative that's as shadowy and intense as it is emotionally resonant.

Set against the backdrop of a decaying town, Beaumont, Missouri, the story captures the essence of despair and the yearning for escape. Here, life's cyclical nature—birth, toil, and death at predetermined checkpoints—paints a grim picture of existence. Amidst this bleakness, sisters Amelia and Kylee, alongside their cousin Grace, become beacons of hope and resilience. Raised in the shadow of poverty by their pole-dancing mother, the sisters' bond is tested and strengthened in the crucible of adversity, particularly after a traumatic home invasion that saw them saved by Grace's brave actions.

The mystery of Grace's disappearance six years prior hangs over them like a shroud, compelling Amelia and Kylee to delve into the murky depths of their town's and family's secrets before they can carve out a path to freedom. Their investigation reveals not just external dangers but also the shocking truths that lie within their closest circles, challenging their perceptions of trust and safety.

The narrative, skillfully entwined through the perspectives of Amelia, Kylee, and Grace, is compelling and rich with complexity. Each character, distinct in their resilience and vulnerability, draws you closer into the fabric of the story. Amelia's idealism, Kylee's resourcefulness, and Grace's determination paint a vivid portrait of courage in the face of despair.

"Safe and Sound" is a masterful tale that not only captivates with its suspenseful plot but also leaves a lasting impression with its deep emotional resonance and the poignant exploration of its characters' inner lives. McHugh has crafted a world that's as haunting as it is unforgettable, securing her place on my list of must-read authors. The story concludes on a satisfying and reflective note, ensuring it remains with you long after the final page is turned.

I extend my heartfelt thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the opportunity to read an advance review copy of Safe and Sound. This book is a testament to McHugh's incredible talent, and I wholeheartedly give it a well-deserved five-star rating.

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Safe and Sound is more than a mystery/thriller. It's a story of strong family relationships, of people stuck in a fading town, of folks stuck in generational poverty with an inability to move up in life. The story opens with a vigil for Grace, who's disappeared years ago. She was the one girl who was determined to make more of herself and leave her small town when she went missing. She was very protective of her two young cousin, who are now teenagers and also determined to escape the life they've been dealt. The characters are really well-developed and Laura McHugh paints a vivid picture of the fading town. There are some shocking moments in the book. The characters are more than the mystery.

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A dark, twisting tale of a young woman's disappearance and her young cousins' attempts to learn what happened to her. Great for fans of Riley Sager, Liz Moore and William Landay.

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I received a free copy from NetGalley. More drama than true mystery, it does have a twist. Characters are well developed and moves at a decent pace.

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It was OK, not my favorite book by the author. I would give it 2.5 stars and have so many mixed feelings. I did not love the ending at all. What happens? Did she survive? Is she comatose? So many unanswered questions. What ever happened with the body that was found in the barn during construction? It was hardly mentioned. I didn't love the characters. It's a wonder Grace, Amelia and Kylee turned out as well as they did. Especially with their moms and family history. Elsie would have never believed Grace even if she told her what happened. Uncle Norman's activities were the dirty secrets that the family never talked about but knew they happened. He was engaged to a fourteen year old. I don't know why Elsie didn't want Grace to better herself and go to college. Grace was doing everything she could to leave, but everyone wanted her to stay. Elsie and Shannon definitely wouldn't win the best mother award. They would leave their children with anyone. Who would leave their children with Norman????? At least Elsie had food in her house and made dinner. Shannon never had any food in the house, besides the moldy hotdog. The whole town probably saw Amelia and Kylee's mom naked at one time or another.

I'm not sure I would call this a mystery/thriller. From the start I wanted to know what happened to Grace. When the truth was finally revealed, it was sort of a let down. I had so many scenarios in my head that could have happened to Grace, but I would have never guessed what actually happened or the reasons behind it. It all seemed not too believable, especially after so many years. The beginning felt slow and nothing much happens except for Amelia and Kylee talking about their missing cousin.

Definitely recommend giving the book a try. The story kept me guessing until the very end. I never expected what really happened to Grace. Look forward to reading more books by the author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Random House through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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First read by this author. The book takes the reader from the past to present in telling the story and putting all the pieces together. The characters are living in a town with not alot of hope and promise and there is quite the array of young, old, good, and bad with secrets throughout. Good writing kept the pages turning and the story flowed.

Grace was the focus of the story but I liked two connected characters, Ameila and Kylee, most both in their past and present lives as it was heartfelt and funny at times. The suspense was good and unraveled to an ending that I did not see coming. This was the author's story but it is the ending that left me feeling a little deceived, slightly short-changed, a tad bit confused yet I liked the way the book ended.

My rating pivoted but I went with the higher star after thinking about it from an overall standpoint. I would read another thriller from this author, glad she got me there. Thank you to both Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity in exchange for an honest review.

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SAFE AND SOUND by Laura McHugh is dark, atmospheric, and utterly compelling. With an increasing eeriness that’ll make readers look over their shoulders, gorgeously cinematic writing, and main characters everybody will root for, this haunting story lingers long after the climatic ending. Not to be missed.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Any time Laura McHugh has a new book coming out, I know that it will be a fantastic read and Safe and Sound continues her track record of great storytelling. Amelia and Kylee are trying to get out of the dead end town they grew up in, but before they do they begin to unravel what really happened a few years ago to their cousin Grace who went missing one night while she was babysitting them.

Once again this story has such heart achingly wonderful characters who are flawed but constantly wanting something better. While I would say that this probably wasn't my favorite book by the author, it was still well done and handles a heavy subject matter in an honest and unflinching way. The pacing and the way that the story unfolds is spot on and I didn't see the end coming.

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Laura McHugh digs deep. Her characters pulse with vitality and complexity, and her stories feel familiar and inevitable. I loved her last book, and I love this one too.

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This is a mystery that I could not put down. It has a lot of twists and turns. the characters are believable and some are likable and some not so. the ending is a surprise that I did not expect. A very good read!

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Missing girls, check; poverty amidst rural location, check; neglectful and alcoholic mother, check; heartbroken boyfriend, check. Safe and Sound has all the "necessary" elements of an intense thriller (many similar to the author's critically acclaimed debut novel, The Weight of Blood), yet they feel horrifically fresh and frightening here. This is mostly due to the depth Laura McHugh gives her characters-most are teens and young adults, yet they possess the strength and resilience of people twice their age-especially Grace, who is all that stands between her young cousins Kylee & Amelia and their predatory uncle Norman. But is Norman responsible for the disappearance of Grace and another even younger girl years before? Safe and Sound is haunting in so many ways-but Grace's bravery (and the contrasting cowardice of the adults who should be protecting these girls) is what sets the novel apart. The descriptions of life in rural Beaumont, Missouri are painful, but the sections with evil Uncle Norman are truly traumatizing (Miss McHugh includes a warning that some parts of Safe and Sound may be "triggering" for some readers). The plot moves a little slow at the beginning, and the end feels rushed and somewhat incomplete, but it's what's in between that makes Safe and Sound truly mesmerizing. Rich, detailed, and disturbing, Safe and Sound cements Laura McHugh's status as a master of suspense.

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