Safe, C. Kennedy

SafeRating: 4 Stars

Publisher: To be re-released by Harmony Ink 24/10/2013

Genre:  Gay Young Adult 

Tags: First Love/Romance, Abuse, Contemporary 

Length:  TBA

Reviewer: Kazza K

Purchase At:  To be re-released by Harmony Ink 24/10/2013


Please note that Safe will be re-released by Harmony Ink on October 24th with some revisions and some updating of characters. Revised  review will be forthcoming at that time. Until then this will give any potential readers a good idea of what to expect. 




This is an interesting YA read as it spans the period of two young boys lives from age ten through to eighteen. It starts in the present, goes into the past, and ends just past the beginning. The Tense changes from present to past and back. I feel it works well for this book because it takes some of the heat out of the sexual experimentation of the two young MC’s and makes it wonderfully age-appropriate without diminishing their relationship and feelings.  The author does focus on the growing sexual awakenings of both Caleb and Nico as their relationship develops and they grow, amongst other topics and it is all well done.


Safe starts with Caleb frantically searching for Nico after word has gotten out that they have kissed at school. It wasn’t a big snog but it seems a teacher has spoken to the headmaster and the boys respective parents have been called to the school…and word has spread amongst the students. I must say I felt quite angry at the way this was handled but I felt it was realistic as I know more than a few schools are not always the kindest or most sensitive when  handling LGBT students. After the initial lead in, the reader is taken back in time in an almost omniscient manner as the book looks at the development of Caleb and Nico’s relationship prior to this latest ‘situation.’ Everything leads up to, and past, the beginning and it is for the most part a nice book with sweet MC’s.


Caleb and Nico were ten when they met when Caleb’s mother gave them both swimming lessons. Nico stayed over a lot because his parents worked long hours –


They had sleepovers almost every night…


Days filled with warm sun and water, and blissful nights under the blanket tents they made in Caleb’s room. They talked until the wee hours until one of them fell asleep and, even back then, Caleb knew he loved Nico.


At  twelve they kissed and cuddled, at thirteen they explored themselves and each other, and as they age they explore more –


Caleb dreamed about Nico every night thereafter. In the shower every morning, he thought of Nico as he stroked himself and wondered what it would be like to stroke Nico. Or for Nico to stroke him, Shit. One day they would try it, he was certain.  


Do I think it is realistic? Absolutely. I am glad that there are books out there that look at the fact that teenagers are sexual beings and that they do touch and experiment; often younger than most books in the YA genre portray. I think it is important that LGBT teens know that they are not alone or  “freaks”


“Can I tell you a secret?”

“Yeah, anything.”

Tears welled in Nico’s incredibly blue eyes again. “You can’t ever tell anyone…..

“I swear it.”

“Okay. I don’t like any girls……”

“I get it.”

“You don’t think I’m a freak?”

“If you’re a freak then I’m one, too.”


The book’s title is well addressed by the fact that Nico’s father is abusive and takes his frustrations out on his son –


Nico got more bruises. Lots more bruises. Almost every day Nico showed up with more bruises. Now stitches. Nico wasn’t safe at home. Ever. Worrying about Nico at night drove Caleb insane.


And Caleb is nothing if not protective of Nico and oh so worried about his small, sweet boyfriend. It does look at the fact that Caleb and his father try to address the violence but sadly it can be quite hard to deal with the abuse some children suffer at the hands of a parent.


Caleb and Nico are lovely characters and I think this really helps the book a great deal, because the narrative can seem a bit older at times –


(Caleb) looked down at their dicks for the first time. His creamy skin against Nico’s velvety bronze was a study in artistic contrast and Caleb marvelled at the beauty beneath him. Nico was absolutely flawless…..


….is more mature narrative than the age of the characters. However, this is one piece of dialogue out of many. 

Where there is dialogue between Caleb and Nico the book does its very best work. The friendship between Caleb and his friends is also good and I think most young adult readers will relate to it in some way, whether it be them or their friends.

I would have loved it if Safe were longer. There are some very interesting topics in this e-book – obviously the exploration and development of Caleb and Nico’s relationship, dealing with pesky girls, the difficulty in coming out to friends and family, having to be careful about displays of affection in front of others, family illness, and domestic violence. The last one, DV, was not given the page space it deserved and, without detracting too much from the book, it could have been developed better and with more meaning in a longer book. Caleb and Nico’s relationship is so sweet, sometimes bordering on needy, but teenage love is certainly powerful and all encompassing, at times, and it’s sometimes easy to forget its power as you get older. The leading characters are charming and you can’t help but wish for this sort of love for more (young) people.

Safe is highly recommended reading for LGBTQ YA readers. 

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