Member Reviews

The first quarter of the novel did little more than establish over and over again how the town of Nowheresville, Missouri (or whatever it was) was a place where nothing ever happened, and everyone that was born in it never made anything of their lives until they ultimately succumbed to a lower middle class death.

The book picked up when the perspective first switched to Grace’s story in the past, and from then on, I greedily gobbled up the story in a matter of hours.

The ending felt a bit rushed (which I believe was my opinion of an earlier novel I read from the same author) and kind of… anticlimactic. I would have liked to see the loose ends tied up.

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Laura McHugh has done it again. Another captivating mystery/thriller set in a small Midwest town, where the people we think we can trust are sometimes the ones who cause us the most harm. Beautifully written.

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"Safe and Sound" by Laura McHugh takes readers on a riveting journey with two sisters as they unravel the mystery of their cousin's disappearance years ago. Set against the backdrop of the Ozarks, McHugh skillfully delves into the complexities of small-town life, revealing dark secrets and unexpected twists. The narrative's constant turns make it an enthralling page-turner, and McHugh's storytelling prowess shines through. For those seeking a captivating blend of suspense and exploration of familial bonds, "Safe and Sound" comes highly recommended.

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Although the story kind of fell apart at the end for me, I can think of lots of patrons who will enjoy this twisty mystery. I enjoyed the flashback to Grace's point of view as events unfolded.

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Six years ago, sixteen year old Grace disappeared while babysitting her cousins, with a bloody crime scene left behind. Her two cousins, Amelia and Kylee, who slept through the disappearance, are determined to discover the truth about that night before they graduate from school. Neither are prepared for the shocking secrets they’ll discover. Safe and Sound, which at first seems like a YA novel, is anything but as the cousins delve deeper into Grace’s disappearance. The story definitely goes in a direction you’re not expecting, and that holds true right to end of the book. Well written with good pacing, the suspense is palpable with each passing chapter, and the book tackles several mature themes that will elicit some emotions from the reader, and that’s always a plus. Well done! I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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This had a great concept and a winning mystery going on through this book. I was invested in what was happening in the story and I enjoyed how good the mystery element was and how the characters interacted with the story. Laura McHugh does a great job writing this and left me excited for more.

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Book Title: Safe and Sound
Author: Laura McHugh
Publisher: Random House Pushing Group- Random House
Genre: Mystery
Pub Date: April 24, 2024
My Rating: 4. Stars
Pages 304

Beaumont, Missouri is an old town where the people don’t change; Children grow up and basically become their parents –living in the same town, working in the same factory.

Amelia and Kylee, are sisters, and hope to leave the poverty in which they lived their whole lives. They were raised by their eccentric mother, a pole dancer who struggles to provide for her family
Their cousin Grace was accepted into college – in fact, the only member of her family as well as the only one among her friends with plans to attend college.

Story starts with Grace’s mother Aunt Elsie holding a sign printed with a blood red marker -STILL MISSING- with Grace’s senior picture. Grace has been missing for six years.
It will be six years ago tonight while babysitting Amelia and Kylee that Grace was taken in what appears to have been a home invasion. Leaving Grace’s blood spattered on the floor and a cabinet.

Now, Amelia and Kylee are near graduating from high school and dream about getting out of Beaumont, but the likelihood of that happening seems as low as that of Grace being found. When human remains are discovered in town, the sisters think they finally know who took Grace.

Story is told from the POV of Amelia and Kylee – now and Grace–then.

I am a big thriller fan and this story started out with me curious of Grace.
This book has been on my TBR shelf for some time. The reviews were mixed so wasn’t too excited about I finally decided I need to read this and make my own evaluation.
As I was reading this story I thought this is an okay story - nothing all that exciting and then
- the conclusion completely changed my mind!!!!. 🤗
I often say when I finish a thriller that I didn’t see that coming – well in this case - I did NOT see this coming. I immediately thought I just found a new fav author!!
I am looking forward to her next book!!

Want to thank NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Random House for this early uncorrected ebook.
Publishing Release Date scheduled for April 24, 2024.

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Thank you NetGalley and Random House for an e-ARC, available everywhere in April 2024.

For years, Grace dreamed about getting out of her small town. She was the first person in her family accepted to college, her escape almost within reach. Before she could leave, or even graduate, she mysteriously disappeared while babysitting her younger cousins late at night. Six years later, her family and friends are still looking for answers. When human remains are found in town, Amelia and Kylee start to form their own suspicions about what happened to their cousin. Not everyone is happy about their search, and as the girls dig deeper, they'll discover the truth is worse than they imagined.

Having enjoyed nearly all of the author's previous books, I had high hopes for this novel. The author has always done an excellent job of getting the reader invested in the story, whether that's by setting the mood, i.e., an unsettling, tense atmosphere that makes you want to keep turning the pages or by writing complex characters you grow to care about. With the exception of Uncle Norman and Kylee, to an extent, I felt for these characters and the hand they'd been dealt. However, there was too much focus on one particular character and no pay-off. Second, I liked that there were some male/female friendships but didn't understand the point of shoehorning in a romance. Lastly, I don't know how I felt about the ending. It's one I figured out before we got there but it didn't make sense to me given the amount of time that had elapsed. Maybe some of it was the lack of resolution as well? I'm trying not to say too much!

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The description of the book seemed interesting, so I wanted to check the story out. Unfortunately, it is not working for me right now. It is nothing against the story or the author, but I couldn't get into the story/characters. I may try and find a physical copy to add the my library when it is released, though, because I think my readers could like it!

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I knew this book would have some tough themes, but it was much heavier than I expected. It's not a fit for me right now, so it went in my DNF pile.

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"Safe and Sound" by Laura McHugh pulls you right in from the first pages and never lets go.

It's the six year anniversary after Grace has vanished, and her two cousins are determined to learn the truth behind what happened. Amelia and Kylee were found unharmed in their upstairs bedroom the night Grace, who was babysitting them, vanished, leaving nothing behind but blood spilled throughout the kitchen. Amelia and Kylee vow to find Grace, dead or alive.

I found myself drawn into their world - a not entirely happy existence, but one filled with determination and perseverance. The story moves back and forth between the first-person-present told by Amelia, and the third-person-past story of Grace, and this dual story interweaving works splendidly. And there are enough suspects and twists to keep it interesting.

I've been a fan of Laura McHugh since I first stumbled upon "The Weight of Blood," one of the best thrillers of recent years, and this one is a pretty good match. If you like thrillers, grab a copy of "Safe and Sound." You won't be disappointed.

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I don't know if this is one my students will like, family trauma, poverty, small town hopelessness, sexual abuse, there would be lots to talk about but not sure it will appeal to them

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This was a slow moving, sad book, primarily a family drama of two sisters, trying to find out what happened to their cousin Grace years before. Part of the story was current timeline and part was in the past , told by Grace. The book felt old fashioned as a whole and hard to read

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Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the ARC of Laura McHugh's newest book Safe and Sound (released in April 2024). McHugh has a canny knack for creating tense and tightly-wound story lines. As always, I was drawn in immediately. In this set-up, the narrative switches from one time frame to another, and inevitably you know that one character is going to go missing. This creates a keen sense of dread that is perfect for a thriller. The only drawback for me was how the ending wrapped that it was not 100% satisfying to my preference. But overall, Safe and Sounds leaves one with quite an impression.

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Laura McHugh is a queen of suspense and this is the perfect example. When teenage Grace suddenly disappears without a trace, the whole town, including her family, wonder what happened to her. The chapters alternate between Grace’s past narration and her cousin’s present day narration. Lots of characters mean lots of suspects and the author deftly throws readers off when the plot goes in different directions. A shocking ending puts the icing on the cake. Perfect for fans of Kimberly McCreight and Megan Abbott.

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I've read and loved all of Laura McHugh's books and this new one was not a disappointment! As always, the characters are well developed and you quickly become invested in them - even when you hate them. Switching between character viewpoints and timeline has become really popular with books, but I think McHugh handled it in a new and inventive way. I liked how things that happened in one timeline get answered/explained in another. Or, there were times that I, as the reader, felt like I knew more than current narrator, which was interesting. I definitely didn't want to put this book down! If I had to choose something to change/improve, it would be the very last of the book. I felt like the storyline was somewhat rushed at the end and so much was left unsaid. But still definitely a book that I highly recommend!

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With Safe and Sound, Laura McHugh takes you right there, into the heart of a toxic family relationship in a small town marked by few options and many dead ends. Although some may want to heed the content warning for childhood sexual abuse, I always find that McHugh is unflinching and straightforward with the grittiest parts of life, and nothing is sugar-coated here. Hats off to the sisters, Grace's cousins, who will do anything to uncover the truth of her disappearance, and to McHugh for pulling off some big surprises.

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Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Safe and Sound.

I'm glad the author thought ahead and put a brief disclaimer in the front of the book warning of potential triggering themes.

This book is tough to read as it deals with child sexual abuse and neglect, amongst other things, and the cast of characters is mostly despicable, with the exception of Ketch, Grace, and the sisters.

Amelia and Kylee's beloved cousin, Grace, disappeared six years ago, and the sisters have never recovered from their loss.

In a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business, the sisters pursue their own investigation into what happened to Grace, but what they find may be too shocking to believe.

The narrative is divided between the sisters and Grace, which was great because often in these genres, the most interesting person is the deceased.

I liked that Grace had a voice in the narrative.

The writing is good, but the pacing is slow since exposition takes up most of the narrative.

There's very little to no suspense or urgency, and though you know who dunnit Grace's fate is still unknown, though I guessed right at the end.

The final reveal of Grace's whereabouts is a bit hard to suspend disbelief for but I rolled with it because it was the end.

This wasn't bad, but this isn't a thriller or a mystery and some readers may find the story very difficult to read.

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Great writing, a fun cast of characters, and a storyline that keeps you reading. The novel falls apart at the end due to plausibility issues.

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Safe and Sound is a missing person thriller by Laura McHugh. Briefly, my thoughts: This book isn't labeled YA, but what with the young characters who are drinking and putting themselves in dangerous situations, the clueless and toxic adults, and the bitter feelings about small-towns, I think I am too old for this book? I mean they relentlessly made fun of Amelia and Grace's boss, who was admittedly creepy and a bad guy, but I felt like they were making fun of him for being old and he was in his 30s. Also, I don't live in the south or anywhere near it so maybe it's different there (I live in the Pacific Northwest), but small towns aren't the villains this book makes them out to be in my experience. And last, this book truly reminded me of On the Savage Side by Tiffany McDaniel in many ways, it was giving me some serious de ja vu.

Kylee and Amelia are sisters. Amelia is a waitress after graduating early and Kylee is in her junior year of high school. They live with their mother who is a stripper and cocktail waitress and isn't the nurturing type. So for most of their lives, they had the positive influence of their cousin, Grace. But she has disappeared several years ago when the story begins. Inspired by the anniversary vigil, Kylee and Amelia start looking into Grace's disappearance and quickly uncover a lot of information previously unknown.

This book had lots of potentially triggering situations in it that made the book hard to read for me at times. However, it was a quick, fast paced read that kept me hooked. The end was pretty twisty, if not realistic. 3.5 stars rounded up.

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