How to Be Safe is one of those books that makes you question the writer with every page. Who is this guy? What was he thinking? Is this story a reflection of who he is as a person? He says so much without ever really saying anything. He makes political references, race references, and religious references; however, you never really know if he has a point to it all. Tom McAllister speaks poorly of God, often taking scripture out of context to work in his character’s favor. He speaks of God as if it is actually possible for Him to make a mistake. He bashes men as if they are all bad, sexual beings out for the kill. He makes women seem naive, emotional, and uncertain about life. Again, is this how he truly feels or is this just how his story comes across?
How to Be Safe was a story that I kept reading because although it wasn’t good (incorrect grammar, lack of a plot), it also wasn’t bad (easy read, train-wreck material). It was easy to read and easy to put down after a long day. I was intrigued by the dysfunction of the main character, but I was also frustrated at how she was portrayed.
How to Be Safe follows an English teacher through one full year of her life. After being fired from her job at the local high school, a mass murder happens, and the town supposedly falls apart. However, it seems like the town had always been broken, hiding their perfection behind the title of “Nicest City” in Pennsylvania.
Anna Crawford, the ex-teacher, becomes paranoid and depressed along with the rest of her town. She shares how murder and terror is everywhere and that she just wants to be sad- an unhealthy, paralyzing sad that is all consuming. Although the story attempts to end with a resolution, I’m not sure that any of my questions have been answered.
With all of that said, I won’t tell you to read this book, but I also won’t tell you not to. If you find yourself in the pages of this story though, please tell me your thoughts.