Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review: Safe Passage by Carla Kelly

The history of the LDS colonies in Mexico intrigues me.  It's been one of those topics I've been aware of for years, but haven't ever taken the time to research it, so I was glad for an opportunity to read this Whitney Award finalist see it from the perspective of (fictional) Saints living there. My interest is definitely piqued enough to want to learn more.

That being said, I had a hard time getting into Safe Passage.  Husband and wife Ammon and Addie have been estranged for a couple of years after her father deliberately neglected to inform Ammon, away at a logging camping, of Addie's miscarriage.  Ammon was injured and unable to return home, all the time unaware of his wife's situation, but she interpreted it as a lack of caring on his part.  When he finally did get home, on crutches and in terrible pain, the normally reserved Addie took her anger and pain out on him, yelling and throwing her wedding ring at him.  He left their home and tried to reconnect through letters, only to receive them back torn into little pieces.

Fast forward a couple of years and the Mexican civil war has made it a dangerous place to live.  Church leaders have strongly encouraged everyone to get out of Mexico, but when Ammon arrives with his family at one of the refugee camps, his father-in-law tells him Addie's still in Mexico caring for her grandmother.  He asks Ammon to return and rescue her and Ammon agrees on the condition that he give Ammon's family $500 to help them start a new life in the United States and another $500 to Addie when they return.

And then it starts to get a bit more convoluted.  Ammon finds Addie and they have close calls with federales and Mexican freedom fighters, but they end up traipsing several days' journey in the wrong direction to give some money that a doctor stole from the place Ammon had hidden it, to the wife of the person who stole it, in return for him preventing Addie from being raped.  (And I literally said out loud - why are you risking your life to take money to someone who stole it from you in the first place!) Then as they're trying to get out of Mexico - even though Ammon isn't sure he wants to leave his homeland - they encounter General Salazar who is the leader of one of the main armies of rebels and that, of course, complicates matters.

Anyway, along with the plot that was all over the place, the character of Addie in particular seemed inconsistent.  I appreciated the recognition that men suffer emotional pain, too, as Ammon did when he learned of the miscarriage and as he related a story from his father grieving after they suffered a miscarriage as well. "Son, for some reason, they don't think men need comfort."  But then there were so many comments like "women were a separate species" and "what was it about women?" that just irritated me, capped off with the last words of the book: "His woman."


Safe Passage
by Carla Kelly
ISBN: 9781599558967
Buy it from Amazon here: (paperback, ebook)
Find it at a local independent bookseller.
Look it up on Goodreads.
Check it out at your local library (find the nearest one here).

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