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Safekeeping
Cover of Safekeeping
Safekeeping
A Novel
Borrow Borrow

Jessamyn Hope's Safekeeping is a profound and moving novel about love, the inevitability of loss, and the courage it takes to keep starting over.
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?

Jessamyn Hope's Safekeeping is a profound and moving novel about love, the inevitability of loss, and the courage it takes to keep starting over.
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?

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About the Author-
  • Safekeeping is Jessamyn Hope's debut novel. Her fiction and memoirs have appeared in Ploughshares, Five Points, Colorado Review, Descant, and PRISM international, among other literary magazines. She was the Susannah McCorkle Scholar in Fiction at the 2012 Sewanee Writers Conference and has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Originally from Montreal, Hope lived in Israel before moving to New York City. Learn more at jessamynhope.com.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2015
    An alcoholic who travels to Israel on a mission of atonement-to return a priceless brooch to an aging kibbutznik-is one of a disparate group of survivors with intertwined futures. Hope's debut, a saga of lives intersecting at Kibbutz Sadot Hador in 1994, accrues its momentum slowly, like a rolling stone. The story is spearheaded by 26-year-old Adam Soccorso, who has fled here from New York, searching for a woman named Dagmar, to whom his recently deceased grandfather had long ago tried to give a family heirloom, a medieval sapphire brooch decorated with pomegranates. Adam, a recovering alcoholic with some recent sins weighing heavily on his conscience, naively believes that handing over the brooch will make things right. The kibbutz community he joins includes international volunteers like him-including ruthless Ulya, from Belarus, whose goal is a glamorous life in Manhattan; and French-Canadian Claudette, freighted with her own long burden of misery-and locals like the musically talented Israeli soldier Ofir and Ziva, an elderly firebrand whose commitment to the original socialist ideals of the kibbutz has filled and shaped her life. They all carry a measure of suffering, and after giving plenty of time to each of their stories, Hope sets about mingling their various paths toward redemption. At a larger level, she uses the brooch to connect episodes of anti-Semitism down the ages. With its multiple mininarratives and characters who lack convincing depth, the story often remains earthbound; but Hope hits her stride as Claudette begins to outgrow her past and Ziva reluctantly embraces truths she has long denied. Not all the characters are granted absolution or even a definite fate, but the brooch ends up in the right home. Less convincing when striving for the epic, this solid novel achieves its strongest moments of emotional resonance in the presence of its older female characters.

  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2015

    In 1994 Kibbutz Sadot Hadar becomes a haven for several individuals trying to make better lives for themselves. Adam, an addiction-prone New Yorker, aims to deliver a gift to a woman his grandfather loved 50 years earlier on the kibbutz. Claudette, a thirtysomething refugee from a life in a French-Canadian orphanage, struggles to overcome obsessive-compulsive disorder. Ulya, a Russian immigrant pretending to be Jewish, schemes to get to Manhattan. Farid, a Palestinian farm worker, wants to open a restaurant. Ofir, a gifted teenage musician, has lost his hearing in a terrorist bombing. And finally Ziva, the kibbutz's octogenarian founder, endeavors to force the community to maintain the socialist idealism on which the settlement was originally founded. VERDICT As Hope deftly juggles the various stories and backstories of her protagonists and the 600-year-old history of the sapphire brooch that Adam wishes to deliver to his grandfather's mysterious lost love, the debut novelist, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, weaves an intricate tapestry of love and longing, failure and redemption. Not every character will be saved but readers will keep rooting for them.--Andrea Kempf, formerly with Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    June 1, 2015
    When Adam arrives at the kibbutz in Israel, he has only the clothes on his back and a priceless medieval brooch. By delivering the heirloom to his grandfather's long-lost love, he hopes to make amends for a past transgression and then move on. But Adam isn't the only restless person at the farm. Claudette, struggling with clinical OCD, longs to return to the Canadian orphanage in which she lived for 30 years. Ulya, who fled Russia by pretending to be Jewish, wishes to find her way to New York. Ziva, having escaped Nazi Germany to help found the kibbutz nearly 60 years ago, now faces the destruction of all her hard work at the end of her life. All of them must come to terms with the fragility of life to discover what they hold most important and stand a chance at redemption. This beautiful story of loss and hope sweeps artfully through 600 years of Jewish resilience. With its richly drawn, believable characters and its great sensitivity, Hope's novel is a striking debut.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

  • The Boston Globe

    “Luminous, irreverent, and ambitious....Full of romance, tragedy, betrayal, and the constant reminder that chaos is a driving force in everyone's story, Safekeeping is a wise and memorable debut by a novelist of great talent and originality."

  • The Globe and Mail
    “A book that is greater than the sum of its parts. A complex, beautiful story about the inheritance of Jewish history."
  • The Montreal Gazette
    "One of the most assured debut novels in years....It's a page-turner that satisfies all the cravings of escapist reading while meeting the real world head-on."
  • The Jerusalem Post "A pleasurable and engulfing read."
  • Booklist
    “This beautiful story of loss and hope sweeps artfully through 600 years of Jewish resilience. With its richly drawn, believable characters and its great sensitivity, Hope's novel is a striking debut."
  • Tablet Magazine
    “When a debut novel comes along and dares just enough and hits the right notes, it deserves our attention."
  • Shelf Awareness (starred review)
    “This emotional journey will leave readers with aching hearts and deepened empathy for the waifs and strays of our world."
  • Library Journal
    “An intricate tapestry of love and longing, failure and redemption. Not every character will be saved but readers will keep rooting for them."
  • Washington Jewish Week
    "[Jessamyn Hope] may be a first-time author, but she's already a master storyteller."
  • Colorado Review
    "Gorgeously written, evocative novel."
  • Mark Dintenfass, author of Old World, New World and A Loving Place
    “A summer on a kibbutz; a disparate cast of characters torn by their own past lives and the inescapable burdens of history; a plot driven by a valuable gold brooch crafted by a master goldsmith in the Middle Ages: from these seemingly ordinary materials Jessamyn Hope has wrought something wonderful. I don't mean simply that her plot is compelling, utterly lucid, and deeply resonant, which it is; or that her troubled characters are created with both deep compassion and clear-eyed skepticism, which they are; or even that she writes brilliantly, which she does. What's most wonderful about Safekeeping is the author's uncanny sense of how much of the world can be understood by keen attention to its smallest particulars, and how meaningfulness will multiply when you refuse to force upon the reader your own personal meanings. Like the exquisite gold brooch that shimmers emblematically at its center, Safekeeping seems to glow with a rich patina of timelessness, the sign of true art. Listen, do yourself a huge favor, read this book."
  • Peter Cameron, author of Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You and Coral Glynn
    "There is no writer whose first novel I have awaited more eagerly than Jessamyn Hope, and Safekeeping surpasses my expectations. It's a brilliant and captivating novel about the past, the present, and the future, about love and legacy, and it is written with Hope's singular blend of intelligence, clarity, and grace. I am very happy it is finally here among us."
  • Caitlin Horrocks, author of This Is Not Your City
    "This globetrotting, century-hopping novel is extraordinary. Fearless and tender, Jessamyn Hope holds in her hands both the sweep of history and the intricacies of the human heart. Lives shaped by larger forces must still be lived, and with desire and fear, strength and frailty, the characters in Safekeeping movingly struggle towards transformation. These are people and a story that will stick with me."
  • Joan Leegant, author of Wherever You Go and An Hour in Paradise
    "With a sharp eye and a masterful hand, Jessamyn Hope brings to life the complex world of one Israeli kibbutz--from the troubled young volunteers to the new immigrant Russians to its old embattled Socialist founders--during a single sweltering Middle Eastern summer. Rich in history, lavish in its portrayal of place, and fueled by an exciting tale about a jewel that must be restored to its rightful owner, Safekeeping is a terrifically absorbing read by a writer who knows what she's talking about. I was hooked from the first page."
  • Melvin Jules Bukiet, author of After: A Novel and editor of Nothing Makes You Free: Writings by Descendants of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
    “In Safekeeping, Jessamyn Hope explores the manifold contradictions of the people drawn to Israel as elegantly as the medieval jeweler who designed the heirloom brooch that dramatically catalyzes her plot. Both passionate and compassionate, the...
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