Latest Reads: Keep You Safe. Melissa Hill

Publication Date: Available Now from HQ

Source: Review Copy

Single mom Kate O’Donnell is living her worst nightmare. Her young daughter, Clara, who has a medical condition that doesn’t allow her to be vaccinated, becomes critically ill when one of her classmates, Lauren-whose family chose not to vaccinate-contracts and spreads the virus. While Lauren has no trouble recovering from the disease, Clara’s condition worsens. With time spent by her daughter’s bedside, Kate loses her job and slides deeper into medical debt. But when another school parent points the blame at Lauren’s mother, Lucy, and the media begins an attack, we see two very different views on parenting and how badly things can spin out of control when all either of these two women wanted was to keep their daughters safe.

In “Keep You Safe” Melissa Hill takes on the vaccination debate in a fictional setting and the whole thing was utterly gripping, thought provoking and ultimately made it difficult to absolutely come down on one side or the other.

Two children, opted out of the vaccination programme. One for very very understandable medical reasons – there is a very real chance a jab could kill her. The other for very different reasons, a stance taken by parents afraid of possible side effects. Both girls become ill – one mildly, one severely. The Herd Immunity that should have protected Clara, with her lack of any real choice, failed but is it a failure of science or parenting?

It’s an intelligently told take on a  provocative subject that Melissa Hill makes very human –  by exploring the fallout for both mothers, adding in takes from other parents watching on and throwing in the hive mind that is social media, she creates a very strong emotional core to both character and consequence that will have you completely enthralled.

I read it in one sitting – so immersed was I in this community, small and supportive, an issue like this that goes viral, everyone has an opinion, sides are taken, lines drawn in the sand – through this two very different mothers, living with very different circumstances, have to cope and manage an untenable situation. The writing is beautiful, the characters vivid and real, the subject matter extremely important and the author never loses sight of the most important aspect here – that of the children and keeping them safe.

This is a novel that will affect each reader differently – I’m a strong advocate of vaccinations – but by the end of this book I at least understood the motivation and the reasoning behind the decision to opt out that wasn’t driven by a medical allergy – I still did not agree with it but I could see it. I was impressed with how the author made the argument for both sides with such emotional clarity, taking the reader through a myriad of feelings and regrets, whilst also making the scientific aspects easily understandable.

Overall Keep You Safe is a novel that will stay with me. In the end as parents we can only do the best that we can – this story will keep you thinking and the ultimate resolution is cleverly placed to make you do just that.

Highly Recommended.

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