Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chance of safety by Henrietta Branford

Many years ago I discovered a blog called The Little library of rescued books.  My book today would be the perfect candidate for this collection.  Chance of Safety was first published in 1998 and is of course long out of print.  This is such a shame because this slim volume contains a powerful story with themes of love, family and determination. 

Chance of Safety is a book set in a dystopian future where people who are rich are of course powerful and people who are poor are left to suffer.  The government have set draconian rules for the population including travel restrictions and check points with armed police.  There is a culture of secrecy and corruption. 

Citizens who commit even small crimes are fitted with electronic tags and forced to work long hours in road building labour gangs.  Alex and Nelly, though, know nothing of this.  Their mother Ruth is a doctor and Rob their dad is an employee of a government agency called Motorways Incorporated.  Until now the family have enjoyed a comfortable life of privilege. Through the course of their work both parents discover that the government have covered up the real reason the road gang prisoners are dying.

"The prisoner had been in reasonable health, for a Beta Sector Juvenile, when arrested. A bit overweight.  Bad teeth. Poor muscle tone. Flat feet. Mildly anaemic. Nothing unusual. When she died, ten months later, she was suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea and her hair was falling out, though that was hard to tell with prisoners once their heads were shaved.  Also she was bleeding from everywhere."

The knowledge held by Rob and Ruth that the road building materials are filled with nuclear waste mean the family are now in danger so they load up their car and drive off towards Wales in the hope of safety with their grandmother.  The journey is fraught and very dangerous but they manage to get through several check points.  Finally they stop near a road gang and chaos ensues.  Rob and Ruth are captured and Alex and Nelly flee on foot hoping to reach their grandmother.

This is gripping story of survival.  Along the way Alex and Nelly meet some amazing people, aptly called Runners, who are living as outcasts from this regime.  They offer enormous support and care to the young children.  The best part of this book, which is only 138 pages, comes very close to the end when everyone is finally reunited and resting safely with their grandmother Kate.  You will sigh with relief that their long and dangerous journey is over and then read of a betrayal so awful you will be left gasping.

Our copy of Chance of safety is quite yellow but for now I am keeping this book in our library.  I adore books like this.  You might also like to read Toby Alone, Forbidden Memories,and the series Shadow Children which begins with Among the hidden.

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