Audiobook Review: Safekeeping

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Thank you to Audiobook Jukebox and Dreamscape Media for allowing us to listen to Safekeeping, by Jessamyn Hope.

This is the synopsis of the story: It’s 1994 and Adam, a drug addict from New York City, arrives at a kibbutz in Israel with a medieval sapphire brooch. To make up for a past crime, he needs to get the priceless heirloom to a woman his grandfather loved when he was a Holocaust refugee on the kibbutz fifty years earlier.

There Adam joins other troubled people trying to turn their lives around: Ulya, the ambitious and beautiful Soviet émigré; Farid, the lovelorn Palestinian farmhand; Claudette, the French Canadian Catholic with OCD; Ofir, the Israeli teenager wounded in a bus bombing; and Ziva, the old Zionist Socialist firebrand who founded the kibbutz. By the end of that summer, through their charged relationships with one another, they each get their last chance at redemption.

In the middle of this web glows the magnificent sapphire brooch with its perilous history spanning three continents and seven centuries. With insight and beauty, Safekeeping tackles that most human of questions: how can we expect to find meaning and happiness when we know that nothing lasts?

So I kind of got the feeling it might be a wee like People of the Book…in that this brooch is the link between centuries and people. And in a way, it was, but not really. Although, mind you, People of the Book has some pretty big shoes to fill and while Hope’s debut does have much going for it, it would be very difficult to surpass Brooks’ novel.  There was much to really like in Safekeeping, but there was also just as much that I didn’t like about it either. I’ll break it down in that way here, to make for a quick and easy breakdown.

What I Liked About Safekeeping:

  • I liked the history behind Adam’s grandfather and his intention for the brooch;

  • I liked that this was the reason why Adam travelled to the kibbutz to find this woman, Dagmar, that his grandfather loved and was the intended person for this brooch;

  • I liked the history, as incredibly short as it was, about the brooch;

  • I liked the storyline with Claudette, the French Canadian woman with severe OCD, her story, and the friendship that develops with Ziva;

  • I liked Ziva, I liked her story, and I liked how the story went back into the past to explain why she changed her name, how she came to found the kibbutz, the storyline with Adam’s grandfather, and what her desires were for living out her final days.

What I Did Not Like About Safekeeping:
  • The audio narration. Kirsten Potter has a deep voice that is sharp and clipped. There is also a character, Ulya, that is Russian and the accent Potter used for Ulya grew to irritate as it became quite cartoonish as it continued;

  • I could only listen to the book in short spurts, so it took me some time to finish. I had to pace myself and get away from her clipped and sharp narration and only listen to it in small spurts of time.

  • I didn’t think Ulya’s character was necessary to the story, or that it became unnecessary and just not an enjoyable part of it for me (some of this may have to do with the accent given to her, the memory of it still makes me cringe);

  • Adam wasn’t the greatest character to read about, or just didn’t like his story/history;

  • I didn’t like that the history behind the brooch wasn’t explored more. There is only one part, where it was first created in the 1300s and what happened to it (which was excellent to hear about) – but after that – we hear absolutely nothing of how it travelled through the centuries or how it came to be in Adam’s grandfather’s family;

  • The ending. Wow, does that ending ever leave all kinds of unfinished parts to the story. Like, unfinished everything about Adam and Ulya too, and for most of the other characters. It is unfinished in how the brooch ended up where it did in the end. Serious hanging parts left unanswered.

I rated the story as a 3.5, as I did really enjoy it, although perhaps I would advise to read it in hardcopy format over the audio. (The audio received a 3 from me.)
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