Cover Image: Safe and Sound

Safe and Sound

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Member Reviews

This is another superbly written story from Laura McHugh, dropping you directly into a small Missouri town. The residents there know they are born in the local hospital and live and die in town, ending up buried in its cemetery. Grace dreamed of getting out--and she wanted that for her young nieces, Amelia and Kylee, too. But then Grace disappears, with just a trail of blood left behind, and the two girls are stuck.

As she ages, Amelia wonders what happened to Grace, poking around the corners of her secretive town. McHugh does an excellent job creating an atmosphere of claustrophobia, flashing back to Grace's story and her own feelings of being trapped, and then Amelia's deep desires to get out. The whole book feels stifling, overcome with the brittle feeling of no hope or prospects. McHugh's writing is crisp, starkly portraying her teenage characters with clarity and realism.

Sometimes things even feel too real--this book can feel awfully hopeless. The ending is a bummer, without a lot of closure. But the story is well-written, with nuanced characters, and it perfectly captures that oppressive small town feeling.

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Disturbing, dark, and haunting mystery thriller.

For over six years since Grace Crow disappeared, her cousins Amelia and Kylee have wondered what happened to her. Living in a small, depressing go nowhere town, Beaumont, Missouri, hasn't made their loss less unbearable and their aunt, Grace's mother, still holds a vigil every year as they wait to find answers. Grace had been desperate to flee Beaumont by leaving home to go to college, but she never made it out of the place. Now Amelia and Kylee plan their escape, but there are still way too many questions. Then, human remains are discovered. Could they finally get some closure?

This was somewhat depressing as a bleak drama and the claustrophobia and desperation of life in Beaumont really created the perfect atmosphere for the plot to unfold. The characters were all quite interesting, some good and some horrid with others walking that fine line between. Some I liked and others I detested (especially Norman). The story is told in a then and now line with shifting points of view between Grace in the past and Amelia and Kylee in the present. I was lucky enough to be able to listen to the audiobook (narrated by the excellent Jorjeana Marie) while also following along in the e-book ARC provided by the publisher. She did an excellent job voicing the characters and that definitely enhanced my appreciation of the book.

I liked this novel but be prepared for triggers such as pedophilia. I enjoyed the writing quality and was really absorbed as the secrets and revelations came to light. The only part I did not care for, and what really affected my overall rating, was the conclusion. It was unexpected, yes, and I just did not like the way it ended. I would have rather seen many other resolutions and I especially do not like ambiguity in a mystery, but I'll leave it here.

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Profoundly gripping and deeply moving. Laura McHugh has become a favorite author of mine when it comes to mysteries; she has a way of making the setting come alive and the atmosphere begin to close in on you as you push on. There are many triggers here (child sexual abuse and pornography amongst many others), but if you can process through this the story is handled with care and presented in a way that it is vital to the plot line, not used for shock value. Highly recommended for those who really like to sink their teeth into a well developed and expertly paced mystery novel.

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Six years after their cousin, Grace, vanished from their home while they were sleeping, two sisters, Amelia and Kylee, set out to learn the truth behind what happened—even if it puts their own lives in danger. Everyone knows everyone else in a small town. But does that mean that you know everyone's secrets as well?

Laura McHugh is an auto-read for me these days. Her depictions of small town creepiness are amazing and keep me turning pages late into the night. Safe and Sound was no exception and I thought it was FANTASTIC. I finished it in one day because I could not put it down. 5 stars, all around!

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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My second book by this Author and this was a good one. 2 Sisters trying to figure out what happened to their older Cousin who vanished never to be found. The twists and turns this book takes you on will keep you reading faster and faster to help them figure it out. I really enjoyed this read. Thank you to Netgalley, Random House and the Author Laura Mchugh for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Gritty and atmospheric. Two sisters in a small Missouri town dream of escaping the limited, depressing lives that seem to be the fate of everyone in town. Their older cousin was their role model: strong and smart, with a plan to get out. But she disappeared and is likely dead. Can the sisters find out what happened to her? Can they make a feasible plan and get out? How things unfold was suspenseful and surprising.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-ARC of this book.

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Several years ago, my family took a weekend trip to Kansas City. While we were there, we visited Rainy Day Books. They happened to be hosting an author talk that evening for a debut novel called The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh. I couldn't pass up an author visit so I went and I've read every book she has written since. Safe and Sound grabbed me from the first chapter and held on until the last page.

Six years ago, Amelia and Kylee were asleep in their upstairs bedroom when their cousin Grace disappeared from their kitchen, leaving only a bloody handprint behind. Now as they both make plans to leave small town Beaumont, Missouri, they vow to find out what happened to Grace before they leave it all behind. The story takes so many twists and turns and each time I thought I had it figured out, I would begin to question myself.

Highly recommend this thriller for your summer reading list! It will keep you guessing and turning pages long into the night. I received this book courtesy of the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a good book with an ambiguous ending that I felt left you with a bit of hope for the characters. Amelia and Kylee are two young women living in a small town in Missouri where everyone's path in life seems to be set before they are born. Born in the local hospital, attend the local school, married, kids and buried in the local cemetery, no one seems to escape the path. Grace was their cousin, one night during a home invasion she saves them from the intruder, though when Kylee and Amelia come out from hiding, Grace is no where to be found and there is a large blood stain that looks like something bad may have happened to her. The story is told in the present and past from Amelia and Kylee's perspective and from Grace. Grace was going to break free of the path created for her, she was an exceptional student and had a scholarship for a college out of the town, no thanks to one teacher in particular that made it difficult for her to maintain her average. Grace also babysat Amelia and Kylee when their mother was working, she worked nights, stripping at a local night club, though she was getting old and tips were getting scarce, the kids sometimes went without food as a result. Amelia and Kylee are convinced that they know who harmed Grace and they chase down any lead they find. One was an Uncle who liked very young children, Grace was in his sights at one point, and Amelia and Kylee when they reached that age (this part of the story was very difficult to read as it struck a chord with me, a friend had an uncle who did this to her). Grace manages to save them from the Uncle but it was at a cost. A very good story that I would recommend. Thanks to #Netgalley and #Randomhouse for the ARC.

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I felt this was a good book . I think this author writes with such grit and gumption reflecting what it is like to live in rural America today .
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this book

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I’m a huge fan of Laura McHugh. We live in the same area of Missouri so I often connect with her setting. The characters are believable and you don’t hesitate to root for them. The story kept me guessing!

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This mystery was just okay, for me. It felt like the pacing kept any suspense from building to make me want to keep reading. The whole thing felt flat, characters and plot. I appreciate the opportunity to read this advanced copy thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.

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Thank you Random House / Netgalley, #partner, for the advanced e-copy of Safe and Sound in exchange for my honest review.

I became a fan of Laura McHugh after reading her last book, What’s Done in Darkness. Her books tend to be dark, emotional, haunting reads and this latest one is no different.

This book is incredibly atmospheric, with that small-town feel really pulling you in. One of the aspects of I love of the author’s writing is how well is she does gritty, dark stories with a human touch. This one tackles the complex bonds of family and how trauma can affect us whether we realize it or not.

I loved the strong sisterly bond we see play out over the course of this book. As I mentioned, this is a dark, and at times disturbing read, but what got me through it was seeing how these sisters stuck together time and again through it all. The bond that Amelia, Kylee and their cousin Grace had is what really drives this story. This is most definitely a character-driven story and one that gets under your skin in the best way…I haven’t stopped thinking about these characters since I put the book down!

Right from the start I knew I would love this one…I just didn’t know how much. I was so emotionally invested in these characters and loved the way the story unfolded, told in multiple points of view, with Amelia and Kylee’s chapters in the present and Grace’s chapters in the past. It really is brilliantly plotted and filled with just the right amount of twists to keep you engaged and guessing where it is heading.

If intense, dark, emotional thrillers are your type of reads, I highly recommend picking this one up!

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Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for gifting me a digital ARC of this wonderful thriller by Laura McHugh. All opinions expressed in this review are my own - 4.5 stars rounded up!

Sisters Amelia and Kylee are desperate to escape small town Beaumont, where the only thing they have to look forward to is a job at the local meatpacking plant. Their cousin, Grace, used to tell them that they had to get out. Only Grace disappeared one night while babysitting the sisters and has never been found. Six years later, a body is found in the woods and the sisters are desperate for answers.

This was such an atmospheric book. You could feel the oppression of the town and its hold on its residents who don't even dream of something different. Amelia, Kylee and Grace's home lives left much to be desired, but Grace loved the sisters and they knew she would never leave them. The story is played out in both the present and the past, as the reader learns Grace's story as well as the sisters and you will be rooting for all of them.. This was a tense, suspenseful read and I never guessed the ending.

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High school students Amelia and Kylee decide to investigate the disappearance and probable murder of their Aunt Grace after human remains are found on a nearby farm. Could it be that the guilty party is closer than they think?

Suspenseful read but may also be a trigger for some with child abuse issues. I did not see the ending coming and although it did resolve things, many were left hanging.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the eARC.

This book is 100% full of trigger warnings so proceed with caution if needed. However, the multi POV and the three girls in this book have stuck with me far beyond finishing it. Devastating and fantastic.

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2.5 stars, rounded down-Some slight spoilers below so don't read if you want to be surprised.

I really liked What's Done in Darkness, it was twisty and kept me guessing. Unfortunately, this book was a huge letdown.

I'll start off by saying that there are trigger warnings galore here, not the least of which is child sexual abuse/pornography. This book is absolutely not for everyone because the most vulnerable here are ignored and neglected.

One of the main problems I have with this book , which made me round down instead of up, is due to the ending. It's confusing, not hopeful, and unsatisfying. If you like solid resolution, steer clear, because this book doesn't have that at all. Yes, we find out what happened to Grace (as anti-climactic as it was) but that's it. There are some other threads that are completely unresolved as well--the solutions are alluded to but not fully explained.

I really felt for all of these young women, with their hopes and dreams to break free and make a new life outside of their poverty and horrible upbringings. Spoiler alert--it doesn't happen.

The writing is strong, as with McHugh's other books, and the mystery of what happened to Grace takes somewhat of a back seat to the creation of the atmosphere of claustrophobic hopelessness. Many people have really connected with the story, so if you're going to read it make sure you're in the right headspace before starting it.

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Laura McHugh hardly ever misses in her psychological thrillers and “Safe and Sound” is no exception. The story takes place in Missouri when sisters Amelia and Kylee deal with the mysterious disappearance of their older cousin, Grace. Extremely thrilling novel.

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I’m a die hard fan of @lauramchughauthor and I can truthfully say this is her best! Gripping and intense —kept the pages turning at a breakneck speed!

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Beaumont, Missouri, a tiny place outside of Springfield, is your classic small town. You’re born there, and you die there. You go to high school (and graduate if you’re motivated), then you end up working at the meat packing plant, the Waffle House or the strip club, living in poverty until the jobs ruin your body and you eventually end up in the town’s cemetery.

We have three young women in the book who tell us the story of what happened to Grace, who went missing six years prior. In the present, Amelia and her sister Kylee are working hard to leave Beaumont, but before they do, they want to know what happened to their cousin. They have no other reason to stay; their mom (Grace’s aunt, Shannon) is a stripper with a substance abuse issue, who probably wouldn’t even notice if they were gone, and neither of them want to follow in her footsteps.

The second half of the books is set in the past, from Grace’s perspective. She was a high school student who had big dreams, of leaving this town and the awful things that happened to her there. (I don’t normally post trigger warnings, but this does deal with her being sexually abused, and it’s heartbreaking.) Grace loved her little cousins, loved her boyfriend, Levi, and was about to be the first person in her family to go to college...then she was gone. What happened to her?

I left this ARC for too long, largely because sometimes I get tired of the “x years ago, tragedy struck, and now someone wants answers” trope. I shouldn’t have let this sit - this isn’t a light, cliche mystery/thriller. This is a book to savor; it’s dark and dramatic and haunting. The town’s characters were great, like the sweet Mrs. Mummer and the misogynistic Mr. Copeland, along with Javi, the cook at Waffle House, and Ketch, who mapped out his plan to become a soldier when he was barely out of diapers. They were all flawless, along with the writing and the story overall. Five stars.

(Thank you to Random House, Laura McHugh and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my review.)

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Safe and Sound by Laura McHugh is a book I will not soon forget! It is a dark story about Grace, a young woman who goes missing six years prior. Her two younger cousins, who she took care of when they were younger , Amelia and Kylee, decide to figure out what happened to her.
This story is told from the point of view of Grace and also Amelia and Kylee. We get to hear Grace’s story from when she was a child and what led up to her disappearance. Grace is one of the best characters I have ever read about. Her story is frightening, and all too real. The chapters from Amelia and Kylee‘s point of view demonstrates what it’s like to live and grow up in a very dysfunctional world. The setting of the book, small town Missouri, is almost like another character. The author does a great job of describing the setting and making you feel like you have actually been there.
The story alternates between Grace and the two sisters, having several chapters from each character’s point of view, and then switching into the other’s. This makes for a very suspenseful read. I could not read this fast enough, trying to figure out what happened to Grace and if her cousins will discover the truth.
Definitely check trigger warnings before reading this! There is some material that certain readers may find too upsetting to read about. Laura McHugh always writes gritty and real characters and I think this is her best book ever. Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

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