Book Review: Keep You Safe by Melissa Hill
Keep You Safe explores the issue of vaccinating your child with two children from the same class who get sick with a preventable illness. One recovers. One gets worse. One was not vaccinated due to an allergy. One was not vaccinated due to the parent's beliefs. Who is responsible? Is anyone responsible?
I am going preface this review by coming straight out and saying that I do not have children. I have a nephew I love dearly and I am the eldest child and there is a large enough age gap between me and all my siblings that I remember babysitting and changing their nappies. So really, I have no idea.
However, a lot of my friends are beginning to start their families and are considering the choice of whether to vaccinate their child. I blindly assumed it would be a no-brainer, get vaccinated, stay well. However, with this mindset in mind and despite the fact I do not have a child of my own, I was hooked on this novel and could not put it down.
It was like an ethics debate at university all over again...
What if you don't believe in vaccinations and your child got sick? Do you an ethical responsibility of making sure your sick child doesn't infect others?
What if you couldn't vaccinate your child due to medical reasons (like an allergic reaction to the content/s of the vaccination)?
What if both of those children were in the same class and they both got sick with the illness that they could have been protected against? What if one of them never recovers? Whose fault is it? Is it anyone's fault?
As a reader, you get the perspective's of the mothers of both of the children and the two families are such a contrast to each other. One family has both parents together, one family is a single mother who has been recently widowed. One family can afford holidays and the mother to take time off work to care for the child, the other can barely afford to pay the bills and needs every shift at work she can get.
This novel really opened my eyes to the divide between families and how important it is as women, in particular, to support one another whenever we can, to not judge each other on our parenting style or what job we have, but to be there to help.
There are some great examples of female friendship, some examples of women being jealous of one another that never leads to anything good, examples of how a kind gesture of offering someone a lift or even making them food can mean so much.
I liked how this novel questioned accepted social norms, not just the white elephant in the room of whether or not you should vaccinate your child, but the social norms and roles of each parent in caring for a child, even if it did only touch on it briefly.
The courtroom drama, the internet comments from the trolls and supporters, the big topics on the table, it made the book go so fast as I needed to know how the case was resolved and if the sick child got better.
The friendships, the marriage, the relationships, even the small tidbits you got from the children's point of view really added together to make this story come alive and gave such a human touch to the story.
I am not going to lie, there were certain parts of the book where a character or two would get on my nerves but I figure that was intended and they were supposed to come across flippant or jealous or bitter.
Overall, if you like exploring both sides of arguments and can put aside your own judgement or bias, I think you would get something out of this. And if all else fails, there is a slightly cheesy love story that I think was really needed to take some of the heaviness away in this book.
2018 Reading Challenges:
Have you read Keep You Safe? What are your thoughts on an author tackling a big issue that faces each and every parent? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.