Cover Image: Safe and Sound

Safe and Sound

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Member Reviews

I've been such a fan of Laura's work since I picked up The Weight of Blood, and when I saw Safe and Sound announced, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

This is definitely making my top reads of the year.

Alternating timelines, we follow Grace, Kylee, and Amelia through their daily lives, which are dominated by dreams of escape but punctuated by the very real restrictions and setbacks they endure. McHugh's writing is crisp, brutally honest, and unapologetically blunt, creating moments of beautiful insight and raw despair. A gripping mystery is the center point of the conflict but also serves as a vehicle to examine how people handle the circumstances in which they find themselves and the ramifications of generational trauma.

I can't recommend enough. Safe and Sound is an absolute must-read.

Huge thanks to Random House and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

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Three cousins intertwined and forever linked in a small town in Missouri when one of them goes missing. The remaining two live with a shadow over them as they grapple with their unstable mother and the desire to leave her and their town behind. This book felt so long! The character development was good but I felt like there were so many repeats of information and events that the story itself was bogged down. And then, the reveal, ending, all took place in the shortest amount of pages possible. It made no sense! To me it seemed like the author knew what happened but struggled getting the reader from point A to point B. The journey between the two was muddled and then "ta da" here is the ending thankyouverymuchhaveaniceday! I wish the time during the novel had been more concise and more time spent on the reveal at the end.

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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
"Safe And Sound" was the 2nd book that I read by Laura McHugh.
I found it to be an addictive, dark, twisty & interesting story that pulled me in right away & didn't let me go until its final page.
I enjoyed the author's writing style, how she told the story in the present day through chapters from the POV of Amelia & Kylee while alternating chapters have the events from the past unfolding through Grace's POV.
My only complaint was the ending seemed incomplete, it didn't answer alot of questions.

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Wow! This one packed a punch. From the synopsis, I was expecting a different book. This one really caught me unaware and clawed it’s s way under my skin. It was an atmospheric, twisty, and surprising read. The conclusion left me shocked! This one has a lot of triggers for child abuse, so please be aware.

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Safe and Sound by Laura McHugh is a very highly recommended mystery following two sisters trying to find out the truth behind their older cousin's disappearance from their home in Beaumont, Missouri.

Amelia(Mimi) and Kylee were found safe upstairs in their bedroom when their teenage cousin Grace, who was babysitting them, disappeared. The sisters are now getting ready to leave the dead-end small town of Beaumont after high school graduation, just as Grace always told them to do. When the remains of a young woman are found on a piece of property outside of town, the sisters immediately wonder if it is Grace. There was so much blood found in the kitchen that night... As the girls begin to look into the identity of the body found they must continue to survive in a town that is cruel to young women and hope.

The narrative is told in the present day through chapters from the point-of-view of Amelia and Kylee while alternating chapters have the events from the past unfolding through Grace's point-of-view. This was a very effective plot device which serves to keep tensions high in both time periods. Readers know Grace disappears and is presumed dead due to the amount of blood at the scene. Seeing Grace grow up and her absolute devotion to her younger cousins establishes the close bond between the cousins. They were really as close as sisters.

Grace, Amelia, and Kylee are all believable, fully realized characters and you will want the best for them even while Grace is experiencing horrors of abuse by an uncle. There are so many layers of secrets lurking in both their families and with their friends. Additionally, the setting is a major character. Beaumont is a hard-scrabble, dead-end town where the best job is at the meat packing plant and it seems everyone is just barely scraping by.
The writing is absolutely wonderful, both descriptive and emotional. I marked several quotes, including one from an elderly former teacher, Mrs. Mummer: "When you're dying, Amelia, you remember your regrets. They crop up like stones in the river when the water gets low. Try to have as few as possible." For such a dark and desperate story there was one discussion that had me laughing, as it will others who know the Missouri/Kansas rivalry. (Condensing the discussion: What do you think it'll it be like? Living someplace else? / Probably something like when Dorothy lands in Oz. / Great. Maybe we'll get hearts and brains and courage. / That's only if you're from Kansas. We're from Missouri. We'll be lucky to get a can of Bud Light and a bootstrap.)

The final denouement was shocking and surprising, but also felt a bit incomplete. 4.5 rounded up. Thanks to Random House for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

The review will be published on Edelweiss, X, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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I thought this was well crafted, with unique twists and although it took me a little bit to get into it, it was a great read! One to add to your list.

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Solid Slow Burn Mystery Will Be Jarring For Some. While never a fan of content/ trigger warnings printed in books (I prefer them on the author's website or in reviews like this, either way separate from the book at hand and easily findable with a modicum of research), let me say up front that if you have severe issues with child sexual abuse or child neglect... this may not be the best book for you. Same with violence against women generally, addiction, stripping, etc.

That dispensed with, this was a remarkable tale of generations of women trying to leave a dying small rural town... and failing miserably, only for the cycle to repeat with their own daughters ad nauseum. It is a slow burn missing woman tale where we do get both the current timeline of one of the women being missing and the older timeline of what her life was up to the very moment she became missing. Both parts of the tale carry the same dull, dismal, depressing stylings throughout, even as both sets of women actively rebel against their situations and try their damnedest to be the women that break the cycle.

For anyone who has ever spent time in a run down house or trailer, you know this life quite well. You've probably lived a version of it - hopefully *without* the abuse, though this is admittedly far more common than it should be in such situations. Which makes the story that much more "real"... and yet also that much more depressing, to a point, as many read fiction as a way to *escape* their current "real" world bonds.

The time switches could be a bit jarring - they are labeled, but the label is somewhat easily missed - and the inconclusive ending, with several questions still lingering, could put some off. Personally, I felt this particular ending made the tale that much more "real" and worked for the story told to that point, particularly in the final build up to the reveal. So it is absolutely a "your mileage may vary", and unless you are just 100% opposed to such endings... do yourself a favor and read this book and see what you think of it yourself.

Overall truly a great and all-too-real (sadly) story, and very well told. Very much recommended. With the warnings noted in this review.

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Another suspenseful page turner from Laura McHugh.
The rural small town is stifling and creepy, and at times feels inescapable. The setting of McHugh’s books always feels like a character of its own.
I grew to like, and root for, the three heroines of Safe and Sound. And in turn, despise a couple of the villains (I could SMELL them thanks to her vivid descriptions).
LOVED this dark mystery that kept me guessing till the end. I highly recommend!
Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy. .

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A fairly good read. Decent writing, fast paced. The story fell apart at the end for me though and then the actual ending was unsatisfying to say the least. The plot itself was a bit too predictable but still handled well.

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Soul-stirring story of family that presents on the surface as a mere tale of generational poverty, toxic, familial dysfunction, and the tendency of humans to repeat that which is demonstrated for us.

The characters in Safe and Sound are so fully realized, it’s hard to imagine they are not based on someone real. It’s even harder not to become invested in them upon learning the paths they walk.

The three main characters Grace, Amelia, and Kylee are brought into a family fueled by dysfunction, and further complicated by suppressed memories and a fear of being or ending up alone. At least EVERY boogeyman didn’t get to slink off unnoticed like a thief in the night.

Despite the trigger warning for those sensitive to situations related to childhood sexual abuse, I was impressed with the way this played out (at least in some ways). For example, without long abuses of preamble, there were occasions of reckoning for certain monsters in the story… Hence, Safe and Sound was not just a tale of victims and the crimes or injustices against them or their dysfunctional families. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Last note: Selfishly, if there were one thing I would change/add/remove… I would consider an epilogue to tell readers who have become so invested in these characters a little more about what comes of them.

Special thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for the amazing digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

#safeandsound #thriller #domesticthriller #suspense #nailbiter #must-read #pubday042324 @lauramchugh @bookshell_f

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3.5 stars. The storyline: Two sisters, Amelia and Kylie, try to resolve the mystery behind the disappearance of their cousin Grace, who mysteriously vanished some years back while she was babysitting them and they were sleeping. I definitely enjoyed a few of the author’s previous novels, and although I enjoyed this one with its intriguing storyline, it missed the mark a bit for me. The general plot was aided by the interesting twists/turns that surfaced throughout, but the ending was a big disappointment to me. It seemed very anticlimactic and just plain rushed — and somewhat weird. Nonetheless, I look forward to reading other books by this author.

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Wowowow what a story!!! I was hooked from page 1 & read this in a day. What a great story- loved the POV and lots that I didn’t see coming. An excellent story that I’ll definitely recommend to mystery/suspense fans.

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Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC of this novel. It's about two sisters in a small town in Missouri that try to solve the disappearance of their talented cousin Grace years prior, on the cusp of her escape to college. The story is told from the point of view of the sisters and Grace on two different timelines. Most of the same players are present in both timelines, so the sisters try to work out who did it with all the same skeevy men who are still there. As someone from a small town that devours its females, this really brought up all the feelings. Grace had been a smart, determined, empathic woman in a town full of men that could only see her light and want to possess it. The only person who ever looked out for her was a grade school teacher, and that was brief and ineffective. Everyone else just questioned her desire to leave without seeing her talent, or even her humanity. Such a clear and well-written tale of the family values that cover a lack of decency in small towns, and the inability to see people clearly where everyone has long been reduced to categories. A tough read but very good.

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The book starts with a vigil for Grace Crow who vanished from home 6 years ago. Grace had been about to leave town on a college scholarship. The blood-stained kitchen is a creepy clue that something horrible had happened to Grace.

The story is told in two points of view. Grace's younger cousins Amelia & Kylee are also desperate to leave their small town of Beaumont, Missouri. They vow to find the truth when human remains are discovered at a nearby farm and people think it's Grace.

Other parts of the story are told by Grace in the months leading up to her disappearance. Several family members and close friends are hiding secrets. The ending was a shocker.

I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and Random House. All opinions are my own.

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Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of Safe and Sound and thank you to Miss Laura for writing another amazing book, I’ve been dying for her to release something new!

Safe and Sound follows 3 cousins, one missing and presumed dead and 2 reeling in the aftermath of their cousin going missing and desperately trying to figure out what happened to her six years after the fact.

Laura McHugh really knows how to deliver a gut punch of a novel. This book was so emotional, hard to read, and triggering at times. We follow some very heavy topics such as child sexual abuse, so def know that going in. It was very heartbreaking to read about and had me cringing and wanting to cry at parts.

This was very fact paced, and I loved the alternating chapters between grace/kylee/amelia. I loved the setting of the small town were majority of the people in it are struggling with poverty and/or addiction. It just felt so realistic, maybe because it’s similar to how I grew up. We even get a mention of a frito chip pie and I thought my family was the only one who made that! Laura always just finds a way to make me feel so connected to her books/stories.

My only complaint and reason for not giving a 5stars is the ending. In a way it felt very underwhelming (but also made me happy in a way) and confusing. The last chapter just didn’t make any sense for what Kylee and Amelia had just been through and was just unrealistic. It felt like there should’ve been another chapter.

Still, def worth a read!

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arc review

Safe and Sound focuses on two sisters, Amelia and Kylee, and their cousin, Grace. Six years ago while babysitting her little cousins, Grace disappeared leaving a bloody handprint behind. While the annual vigils shrink in attendance, Amelia and Kylee haven't given up on finding out what happened to their beloved cousin.

This book may be a good fit if you enjoy:
- sibling-focused stories
- quite a few suspects
- getting mad at sh!tty men

This book is dark and uncomfy at times. Grace, Amelia, and Kylee want out of the tiny town of Beaumont where the typical life is maybe graduating from high school, popping out some kids, and working at the local meatpacking plant. They're made to feel crazy for wanting to see what else the world has to offer. Some of the characters -- especially some of the men -- are garbage human beings, but I was rooting for the main characters' strength and resilience.

Overall, this was a quick and entertaining read despite some parts being tough to stomach. I appreciated there were quite a few characters worth cheering for. The overall plot and twists were good even though I personally wished for different outcomes for some of the characters.

Rating: I liked it! (3)

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ebook early in exchange for an honest review.

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This was my first novel by this author and I loved it. A dark twisty thriller. So many suspects I wasn't sure who was truly involved. The characters and story were believable. I highly recommend.

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Kylee and Amelia are sisters who are trying to get buy in a no-future Missouri time. Kylee is in her junior year of high school. Amelia works at the local Waffle House with an insufferable boss who is most likely trying to get into her pants. Their mom is a stripper. Their older cousin who they idolized, Grace, has been missing for years. Amelia has been saving money to try to get the girls free from repeating their family’s history of being stuck in low-end jobs. Meanwhile, they are trying to figure out what happened to Grace.

The character development was good, but the thriller aspect of the story fell flat for me. I do not like thrillers that use child sexual abuse as a plot point; even though that is a very serious issue.

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This book y’all ! It walked into my life, F’ed ish up, and walked out lol What a phenomenal read. Safe and Sound kept me constantly on edge and then the ending left me visibly shaken. Now this book is not for the faint of heart, and I would take the TW very seriously. That’s a side, it’s one hell of a ride that you’re not going to want to miss.

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Sisters Amelia and Kylee have been taken care of by their cousin Grace. She keeps them safe while their single and distant mother works, until one day she goes missing while babysitting. Now, teenagers themselves, they are desperate to leave their small town but want to find the truth about Grace.

I loved this one! Dark and traumatic at many times, it is hopeful with the two sisters and the reliance they have on each other. There are some evil characters in the story, some truly generous and amazing characters, and some characters just playing the cards they were dealt. I will always love an amateur investigation story, especially with young adults trying to beat the odds of their past and future.

“Folks want to think it’s strangers you gotta watch out for, but a place like this, we eat our own.”

Safe and Sound comes out 4/23.

Safe and Sound comes out 4/23.

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