"There have been arrests. Many arrests." The president has been assassinated. The American People's Party has taken control of the United States and chaos is the new normal. No one is safe from the police who come to arrest at the blink of an eye. Disease is running rampant, prisons are overflowing, and no one's rights have any place in the world order any longer.

Into this world flies Radley coming home from her work in Haiti. She can't wait to find her parents so she can put her world right side up but when she finds her way to her home, her parents are missing and Radley is now on the run from the police who are looking for her. The internet is a thing of the past, destroyed, and cell phones are worthless. Radley is hiking for her life slipping into forests and eating out of dumpsters behind the few restaurants that still survive. Furtive police cars dodge up and down the roadways arresting walkers in frightening spurts of power.

If Radley can make it to Canada, her hope is she'll find her parents and a new place to call home. Instead she finds Celia and her dog, Jerry Lee. The desperate pair journey together surviving on scraps and instinct. Their journey teaches us what could be. The story asks us how did we get there and what is happening all around us now that is carrying us in this direction. Radley's father could see it... he recognized the lack of standards that were tearing the country and the society into shreds. Can we?

287 pages Ages 12 and up

Recommended by: Barb


When the president is assassinated, Radley rushes home from volunteering at a Haitian orphanage, but everything is going wrong. Her parents should be waiting for her at the airport, but they’re not. No one answers the phone at home, her credit cards no longer work, her cellphone is dead, and US marshals are everywhere.

New curfews and travel restrictions mean that the teen must walk for days to cover the hour’s drive home, avoiding checkpoints and scavenging food where she can find it. Arriving at her empty house, Radley passes dark stains on the pavement and hides in a secret attic room as police pound on the door in the morning, over and over.

No electricity, no food left, only mom’s photos escaped the looting. She can’t stay here, she’s got to get away – from the marshals, from the uncertainty about her parents’ whereabouts, from the totalitarian state that New Hampshire has become.

So she heads north to Canada, traveling by night, avoiding other people and their potential dangers, staying clear of the small towns swarming with soldiers, until a big dog comes to her and begs that she follow him. Radley finds Celia ill and feverish, nurses her until the trio can continue plodding north through the rainy woods.

A small, safe place – that’s all they need – somewhere away from the soldiers and curfews and guns.

Can Radley, Celia, and Jerry Lee actually make it to Canada?

Where are their parents, their neighbors, their friends?

Will they ever be able to go home, or will martial law grip the US forever?

Karen Hesse’s own black-and-white photographs of the places where the girls and dog travel fill this book with darkness and light, as the cadence of her words measures the steps and steps and steps that Radley takes on this long journey.

Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at


Radley remembers her parents dropping her off at the airport so she help with relief work for the children of Haiti.  It's a passion of hers and has decidedly changed her life, but not as much as when she returns back to the United States.

The American's People's Party has taken over the country.  All Radley wants is to go home and find her parents.  But her path leads to even more devastation, both emotional and physical.

Karen Hesse is a beautiful writer and this is more than apparent in this YA dystopia novel.

Recommended by:  Naomi Bates, Librarian, Texas USA

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