Cover Image: Safe and Sound

Safe and Sound

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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!

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

I have to start by saying how THRILLED I am to be able to review a novel from a local author! This is my first from McHugh, but it won't be my last. I read this over a few quick sittings, carried along by the fast-paced writing, believable characters, and desire to discover the horrible truths our main characters sought. The only reasons I'm giving this read three stars instead of four are (1) I found the ending to be a little too quick for me, and (2) the content was very serious and heavy, including topics that I don't personally love to read about. BUT, if you check the content warnings and feel good to read, I think you should definitely add this to your TBR when it releases April 23!

Was this review helpful?

Laura McHugh's books are always such emotional, gut-wrenching reading experiences for me, and Safe and Sound was no exception. Nobody else does Rural Noir quite like this.


The author nails it at creating characters that feel so realistic that it's hard at times to remember they're fictional. Her portrayal of the hardships and gritty reality of life in rural America is so vividly drawn that I felt fully immersed in the feelings of desperation, struggle, and hopelessness pervading this small Midwestern community. The disappearance of Grace and her young cousin's determination to find answers and see justice while also fighting for a more promising future for themselves was both heart-wrenching and engrossing to watch play out.


This book was a real standout for me, even though I've loved each of this author's books. The setting, atmosphere, characters, and mystery were all stunningly well done. This story doesn't provide gentle, easy answers, but I enjoyed every page of the grim, compelling journey. 


Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for the opportunity to read an early copy of this book.

Was this review helpful?

I didn't love this one. I"m not exactly sure why! It wasn't particularly fast-moving and the sisters made me roll my eyes. Often. Plus it didn't make sense to my why THAT was the time they decided to really care/investigate what happened so many years ago. Maybe I missed it!

Was this review helpful?

I LOVED THIS BOOK

It's been six years since Amelia and Kylee's beloved cousin, Grace, vanished in the middle of the night while babysitting them. Grace had dreams of escaping their dead-end small town, and she was *this close* when she disappeared, leaving Amelia and Kylee with unanswered questions and dangerous dreams of their own.

This book was amazing and everything I want from a missing person/cold case/smart, determined girls trapped in a crappy town thriller. I loved the part at the beginning where McHugh describes the road that circles the town, going from the hospital to the meatpacking plant to the cemetery - "It was like the kiddie-car ride at the county fair, where you've got your own steering wheel and you can turn it all you want, but there's only one way to go, the track laid out before you got there," - BRUTAL. The way the story was told in dual timelines, switching between Grace's story from six years ago and Amelia & Kylie's story in the present, the tension was nearly unbearable. Grace was so smart and brave and driven, and knowing she was going to disappear pretty much wrecked me. I loved Amelia and Kylee as well - Amelia's snark factor was delightful, and they felt like real girls caught in a terrible situation. The ending was upsetting and weird and I loved it. This is absolutely going on my list of favorite books this year.

Also... somehow this was the first book I've read by McHugh (??!??), and I've clearly been missing out. I just downloaded her debut novel THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD from the library and am reading it ASAP.

Was this review helpful?

This was my first read from Laura McHugh and I'd read again. The character development in this book is strong and the setting of the Ozark's was also well developed. I found the book fast paced and gripping. There were characters to cheer for, characters who were complex and characters who were down right evil. Lots of twists and turns that made it hard to put down. Unfortunately I was disappointed by the ending. I guess I wanted more for the sisters and Grace. Overall a worthwhile, engaging read.

Was this review helpful?

Teenagers Amelia and Kylee are as close as two sisters can be. Growing up in the small town of Beaumont, Missouri in the heart of the Ozarks, life hasn't always been kind to them. They're mother is an aging stripper that has tried to do her best when she wasn't drunk and swinging on a pole all night to make a buck. These girls know if they stay in Beaumont that their life is as good as over so they dream of escaping together by saving every penny and measly tip Amelia makes from The Waffle House. Before they can go though they will need to find out what happened to their older cousin, Grace, who was their fierce and loyal protector until the day she disappeared six years ago.

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

Laura McHugh has once again delivered another gripping and gritty story about people living hardscrabble lives in the Ozarks. In 2017 I read her book, The Weight of Blood, and I was amazed at her ability to bring a story to life. Her characters are so fully realized that you can't help but to become invested. Our characters here are flawed, yes, but many are just trying to do their best with what they've got, which is very little to say the least. In contrast, there are plenty of repugnant characters that will make your skin crawl. It's the juxtaposition between those characters trying to do right but often getting things wrong and those that have no fucks left to give that make these grit lit stories so fascinating to me. The blazing sun, the dust and dirt, the smell of the meat packing plant - I was completely transported - and after turning the last page I am happy to leave Beaumont in the rearview mirror. 5 stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for my complimentary copy.

Was this review helpful?

This story was hard to put down. The characters were very layered, complex. The setting was so well detailed (bleak) I could clearly picture it. The story was masterfully built by the shift between past and present and the voice of the two characters (Grace and Amelia).

There was a lot going on and great twists I didn’t anticipate. That said, the ending left me a bit stumped. In a way I get it, it’s resolved enough for you to imagine the writing on the wall but, ugh, I wanted more!

Was this review helpful?

Amelia and Kylee are sisters, planning to escape the small town of Beaumont Missouri as soon as Kylee is finished with high school. Amelia works at Waffle House and saves all her money to fund their escape from a town that seems inescapable. Their cousin Grace was determined to escape as well, on a full ride scholarship to a college in Iowa when she disappeared one night 6 years ago. The book opens with the annual vigil for Grace lead by her mother, and Amelia and Kylee decide they have to figure out what happened to Grace before they can leave the town.
This book is a gritty drama, told in alternating parts from the perspective of Amelia in the current timeline, and Grace in the years leading up to her disappearance. From these alternating timelines, we slowly build to the conclusion of what truly happened to Grace, and it was certainly not something that I would have predicted or expected. There is mentions of child sexual abuse, for those who want to be prepared for those types of elements.
I've decided to rate this 4 stars, rounded down from 4.5 stars simply because the conclusion felt a little slap-dash and left me wanting more. Overall, it's a relatively short novel and I think a little bit more elaboration would have left me feeling more satisfied. That said, I definitely enjoy this author's writing and will continue to read her books.
Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for the electronic ARC of this novel for review.

Was this review helpful?

I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House for providing me with an advance e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. Look for it in your local and online bookstores and libraries on April 23, 2024.

Was this review helpful?

Another winner from Laura McHugh!! I have devoured every book she has written and this one was no different! Safe and Sound was full of suspense and had me guessing all the way to the end!

Amelia and Kylee were determined to find out what happened to their cousin, Grace. She had been watching them when she disappeared during the night six years ago. Little did they know their search would start to unearth many secrets. Secrets people might just kill over. How far would they be willing to go before they would be silenced for ever?

I loved how I truly never guessed the ending, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I felt like I was right there with them and experiencing the heartache and fear first hand. A must read!!

Was this review helpful?

Imagine a town that smothers you and has many secrets. This was a solid mystery and thriller filled with suspense and it kept me engaged. I will be seeking more of this authors work.
Many thanks to Random House and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Was this review helpful?

As a long time fan of Laura McHugh I was thrilled to see a new title and I certainly was not disappointed. I devoured this book over the course of an evening and it was worth it. There was a solid "who-done-it" element to the entire book and several times I thought I knew just to second guess myself later. There were a few twists I certainly didn't see coming but there were also a few things at the end that I didn't feel were as resolved as much as I'd hoped.

The elements of small town life were woven in so well too. The characters felt like people I could have known in my own life.

I would suggest a trigger warning for the abuse elements.

I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Grace, Amelia and Kylee never really had a chance. Growing up in a small Missouri town, where no one every leaves, each girl knows that there's more out there for them.

Grace disappeared 6 years ago. She was babysitting the younger two girls and when their mother came home, the door was wide open and blood was all over the kitchen floor. There has been no trace of Grace since then.

Amelia and Kylee have grown up with the shadow of Grace around them. With high school graduation looming, the girls know they have to leave as soon as possible. However, they want to discover the truth about their beloved cousin before they do.

This is a dark story with a mile-long list of subjects that need trigger warnings. It's a sad story, it's a. story about a broken family and people who live below the poverty line.

My one complaint is that the end was rushed and...a bit ridiculous. It's been six years and [ Grace is still being kept alive? Why? How? What about Annaliese? What about Alan and the money?

Still, I enjoyed this book despite the dark subjects.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review.

Was this review helpful?