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Book review: 'Safe House' deals with two families affected by domestic violence

"SAFE HOUSE," by Shannon Symonds, Cedar Fort, $18.99, 292 pages (f)

In "Safe House" by Shannon Symonds, two families are living and trying to survive in homes filled with fear.

The fathers are mean and cunning. They keep the mothers afraid to move, even to do the ordinary things moms do with their children.A concerned social worker does her best to offer the mothers options but the story clearly illustrates the hesitation that the abused women feel when it comes to leaving a bad situation.

It's a bumpy read as some of the story is simplistic given the complexities of the topic, but it's told sympathetically.

Amber, the oldest daughter in the home of Berk and Emily, tries to rescue her baby brother and her unhappy little sister. She is the one who calls for help and thus brings the wrath of her stepfather down on her.

In the home of Sam and Kelly, Kelly is nearly killed by Sam's throttling yet she is the one taken to jail.

Kelly's small children are whisked off to live with Sam's new girlfriend after he shows up with divorce papers.

The book is interesting reading if only to see if justice is eventually served.

Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leave a Book of Mormon on Kelly's porch, which Sam buries in the trash. Amber is invited to an LDS ward activity by her new friend Adam and the local leaders help her.

Working through these situations is Grace, a social worker who cares very much about both families. Grace tries to make a difference. She, however, is fighting to convince discouraged, demoralized women they can make it in a world without their husbands.

In this book, law enforcement and court system officials are not very helpful. Then bad weather, power outages and floods hit as things escalate.

Despite the subject matter, violence is limited to beatings, pulling of the hair and attempts to strangle. Language is left to mentions of cursing and swearing. There is no sex mentioned.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 40 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at