Safe House by James Heneghan

This book opens with the line, “It was the perfect night for a murder.” It’s 1999, a year after the Good Friday peace accord, and violence and hate between the Protestants and Catholics still plague Belfast. Twelve year old Liam’s parents are the victims of the murder–they are gunned down in their bed as a retaliation killing. Liam escapes out the window, but only after he’s seen the face of one of the killers. The police move him to a safe house, but when Liam is betrayed and revealed to his parents’ killer, once again he is forced to sneak out through a window, on the run for his life. He’ll need his wits, his training as a gymnast, and every bit of courage he’s got to make it through the night.

In this fast-paced, nerve-wracking ride, James Heneghan still manages to get across the historical and political context of the troubles in Northern Ireland in as much detail as most middle school readers will need to understand the story. Never condescending or maudlin, there’s enough action to keep your adrenaline racing, and enough plot and backstory to keep you interested. A good pick for fans of Alex Rider and other action thrillers who are ready to try something with a bit more substance to it at the end of the day.

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3 responses to “Safe House by James Heneghan

  1. Hi: Just picked this book to read to my grade 8 class, trying to figure out how to approach it – break it down into a variety of activities and assignments…first year teacher, and i could use all the help i can get…thanks

  2. I can’t help you with classroom activities, since I’m a librarian and don’t have formal training as a teacher. However, the publishers, Orca, do have teacher’s guides for a lot of their books on their website here. That will give you an idea of the kinds of questions and assignments you can use, and if you feel most comfortable using something with pre-prepared teacher’s notes in your first year, you could pick another book with a guide available.

    And make sure to leave some room in your classroom for fun reading just for the joy of books, too–not every book needs to have homework attached. 🙂

  3. I have recently read this book for my book talk

    it’s not bad pretty good in a way
    abhorrence!

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