No Place Safe: A Family Memoir


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By that night, contenders in each literary category have been reduced from several nominees to three, and the winning authors, like Oscar hopefuls, do not know they have beat the competition until their names are announced on stage.

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Posted in Books. Tagged with atlanta , black authors , Books , colorado book award , kim reid , no safe place: a family memoir. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Sign me up! Create a free website or blog at WordPress. As I open the door to our former home, the past rushes back to greet me. Each step across the marble entryway echoes in eerie stillness as I smile at the familiar landmarks of the life we left behind.

There are no pictures of my children anywhere in sight, an oddity that reflects my lack of zeal for home decorating, which ranks about number on my priority list. A perfect example is off to my right where the same eight wooden chairs stand like soldiers gathered around our table, guarding the Waterford crystal stored in a nearby hutch. The showcase area , I murmur to myself.

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But I have no desire to stop, no desire to touch any keepsakes. The oversize room—with its threadbare sofa, two Kool-Aid-spotted wingback chairs, and a mahogany coffee table marred by mysterious carvings that no one ever admitted to—was always the happiest, noisiest, most magical room in the house. For years, I joked that it was the boundary between where the serene and beautiful ended and the madness began, mostly because of a grand assortment of music equipment that is still squeezed into every available nook and cranny. I shake my head, trying to decide if the conglomeration of equipment makes it look more like a storage room or a prop lot at Universal Studios.

Only the vaulted ceiling gives the room some spaciousness. But truthfully, the cramped conditions never bothered us because every inch was tailored to our dreams and every fiber quivered with our energy. I wistfully remember how a joyous confusion erupted every time the doorbell rang, causing each one of us to run and jump over obstacles like we were training to be Olympic hurdlers. By day, the room was full of laughter and chatter; by night, things always disintegrated. I can still hear our passionate lines, like ghosts rising out of the darkness. Madison, who never could fall asleep in a quiet room, is sound asleep on the sofa, oblivious to the drama around her.

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But Dallas never goes down without a fight. When the doorbell rings, my daydreams vanish. When you gonna have time to sleep? Lorna tries to put the eyelashes on but fumbles, which makes us both a bit giddy. She struggles some more before looking in the mirror. We toast our success and chatter away, even contemplating whether we should hire a limo to take us to our class reunion. At times, we toss questions back and forth like handfuls of confetti. What should we wear?

How should we fix our hair? Who will we impress? And, yes, we even admit that we hope to look better than any of the cheerleaders from back in the day. I struggle to breathe as the light in the room slowly dims. For the past few months, Demi has vacillated between cheerful and sullen, as though her moods are altered by the pull of a string. A sudden flashback pushes my anxiety even higher. I remember how peaceful she looked, but when I gently touched her, I froze. Next to her on the clean sheets was a bloody rag. I felt as though someone had slapped me in the face.

She awoke with surprise, her eyes clouding with fear. As we held each other tightly, I wanted to believe her. So did Eddie. She went to the malls and skate rinks where some of the boys were last seen alive. She knew many young men who fit the profile of the victims.

And Kim knew more about the murders than most girls her age--her mother, a single, black mom who was also a police officer, was a member of the task force. As the oldest child, Kim was responsible for her younger sister. Her responsibility grew larger as more and more of her mother's time was sucked away by the long, grueling hours of the task force, many of those hours spent interviewing potential suspects and grieving family, and walking through crime scenes looking at the dead and dumped bodies of children.

The murders caused Kim Reid to grow up more quickly than she might have otherwise.


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And while all of this was happening, she was starting school at a mostly white Catholic private school where the same concerns that consumed Kim's life were nothing but a passing blip on the radar for the other students. When Kim asked them what they thought about the murders some knew nothing of them at all while others pointed out that it didn't affect them because the crimes were only happening to poor people. Kim faced racial tension at her new school. Memorably one group of boys I'd like to smack upside the head compared black people to shit, as in "how do black people know when their asses are clean since it's all the same color?

Her mother played similar dual roles--tough cop and caring mother stretched too thin.

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The writing is wonderful, the story of one girl and her family gripping. I highly recommend it. Dec 22, Iejones rated it it was amazing. I cannot believe that the 80s are becoming vintage - the teenagers are rocking styles and phrases that take me back to my teen years - Ah such is life - Kim Reid does an excellent job capturing this period - most likely the last period of childhood innocence.

This work covers a time in the life of African American children that was fraught with fear and suspicion - the Atlanta Child Murders - would cause anyone - who was a teen or pre-teen in the early 80s -- to shiver. Nevertheless, Reid allows I cannot believe that the 80s are becoming vintage - the teenagers are rocking styles and phrases that take me back to my teen years - Ah such is life - Kim Reid does an excellent job capturing this period - most likely the last period of childhood innocence. Nevertheless, Reid allows the reader to see how children are impacted by tragic news events when age mates are the victims and your mother is in law enforcement.

Still, with the heart of a teenager, Kim recreates her pubescence with color, candor and craft. Kim draws the reader into her challenging moments in an integrated school setting where white boys and girls gave her grief to moments of teenage intimacy with the neighborhood fly boy and puppy love.

Raised by a single parent, who did not allow men to invade their space as mother and daughters, Kim allows the reader to feel the strength, respect and fear she held for mother. Through writing about the Atlanta child murders she has found a bit of release and rebellion. Kim acknowledges that her life was impacted by so many variables over which she had no control, this story released those emotions.

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Concurrently, this story is about rebellion over the injustice the murdered children recieved. Wayne Williams, an African American, was tried and convicted of 2 murders, while the other 20 plus murders remained unsolved. Apr 06, Missy rated it really liked it Shelves: coming-of-age , memoir. There are a lot of references to music, fashion and other things that were popular back then, and it was fun to read about Kim enjoying the same things that I did during that same time period. Her story centers around the Atlanta Child Murders that occurred over a three year time period, from to Kim's mother did not share a whole lot of information with Kim and her sister, Bridgette, but she did what she could do as a single mom to take care of her girls during that time.

During this time, Kim and her sister were not allowed to do most of the things that they used to enjoy doing. Kim loved to play basketball out in the street at dusk in the summertime, loved to go to parties in her neighborhood, and go shopping.

One by one, all of those things were "taken away" because of the murders. Although Kim resented her mother for making the new rules and working long, hard hours, she constantly reminded herself of what the effect of the murders was having on her mother. Kim Reid's memoir is honest, gritty and unforgettable. She held her head up high and was proud of who she was, where she lived, and who her mother was. This is a beautifully written memoir. Anyone who loves memoirs like I do will love it. It is an unforgettable story written by a very talented author. Sep 18, Michelle Leonard rated it it was amazing Shelves: faves , , apooo.

My review posted to Amazon. Kim Reid was thirteen years-old when the Atlanta Child Murders began in Her world was turned upside-down as she and her younger sister adjusted to new safety measures that stifled the carefree life most children experienced when not under the constant threat of a serial killer.

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Her mother's role, as a Task Force investigator on the ca My review posted to Amazon. Her mother's role, as a Task Force investigator on the case, increased Reid's awareness beyond that of any child and most adults.

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Despite the dangers that lurked around her, Reid was able to enjoy, and in some cases, endure basic rites of passage common to all children: babysitting a younger sibling, puberty, making out at house parties, trying to fit in at a new school and holding down a part-time job. Kim Reid offers a unique perspective of this event as a young teenage daughter of an investigator in No Place Safe. She exposes the full range of fear, anger, uncertainty, frustration and small pockets of joy that she, her family and the community felt throughout this time period.

Her depiction of the city and suburbs of Atlanta is as alive and vivid as any human character she portrays. Readers will appreciate and applaud Kim Reid's ability to enjoy the basic beauty of life only seen through the eyes of a young person under very frightening conditions. Book groups will enjoy the the discussion questions available at the end of the book which touch upon a number of thought-provoking themes presented in the story. This book is highly recommended for anyone curious about the impact and influence of the Atlanta Child Murders on children of that era.


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  • Reviewed by M. Nov 25, Lynda rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: police officers, teachers, parents, anyone with a conscience. I couldn't put Kim Reid's family memoir down until the last page. Her writing is so engaging and accessible, and the story is so compelling, it's the kind of book that will keep you up into the wee hours. It's a memoir, but it reads like the combination of a coming of age and a suspense novel. Truly a remarkable piece of work.

    Kim and I were the same age. My dad kept track of the investigat I couldn't put Kim Reid's family memoir down until the last page. My dad kept track of the investigation and discussed details with me and my sisters as a cautionary tale, both of the suspect s who might be victimizing the children, and a society that would turn a blind eye for YEARS as twenty-six children are abducted, murdered, and dumped like so much garbage.

    The case resonated. Kim brought it to a unique life on the page because of her perspective. The killings took place all around her neighborhood in southwest Atlanta, and her mother was an investigator out of the DA's office, assigned to the Missing and Murdered Children's Task Force. I think this book should be required reading for law enforcement, parents, and anyone who thinks that one child's life is more valuable than another's, whether based on race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic level.

    This book deserves a wide audience. I hope you'll pick it up, and I hope you'll recommend it to others. You won't regret it, even if you've never heard of the case. One of my top five reads of Another perspective This is a young black lady's view of the Atlanta child murders back in the 70's. Her mother was an investigative cop who worked on some of these cases. The story also covers their life at the time along with her younger sister.

    She is a smart, intelligent person who in her younger years knew the value of a good education. Seems she was a very strong woman who set the rules and made sure you followed them.

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    No Place Safe: A Family Memoir No Place Safe: A Family Memoir
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    No Place Safe: A Family Memoir No Place Safe: A Family Memoir
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