Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You Are My Only by Beth Kephart

Sophie isn't allowed to leave the house. If she does, her mother gets really mad. Sophie has never been to school and has never had any friends her age. Her mom teaches her from books she gets at the library. Sophie and her mother are constantly moving, trying to get away from the "no good," even though Sophie doesn't understand what they're running from. One day, Sophie looks out the window and sees a boy playing catch with his dog. Sophie decides to talk to him. This begins a chain of events that changes everything.

The story was told from two perspectives. The first was in the present day, with Sophie, and the second was from a woman named Emmy in 1990. Emmy left her baby alone for a minute when she went inside to get a blanket. When came out, her baby was gone. Emmy desperately searches for her child. Her husband, who we understand is abusive, blames her and wants nothing to do with her, even going as far as to accuse her of doing something to the child. Emmy has a breakdown and is sent to a psychiatric hospital, where all she can think about is getting out and finding her baby.

Sophie has made friends with the boy next door, and must keep it a secret from her mother. Sophie is supposed to stay inside all day and study from the books her mother brings her. Sophie begin sneaking over to Joey's house, not just to spend time with Joey, but also with his aunts who are raising him, Miss Cloris and Miss Helen. The more time Sophie spends with other people, the more she begins to question why her mother won't let her out, or go to school, or why they have to keep moving. Sophie begins searching for clues.

It was fairly obvious as where the story was going. I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying that Sophie is the baby that disappeared. We don't know why she was taken though. That is revealed much later on in the book.

We get to know Sophie well over the course of the book. She's smart, but known no other life then the one she'd had with her mother, constantly moving and not speaking to people. She tries very hard to please her mother, but it doesn't seem like much pleases her. As Sophie is getting older though, she isn't as quick to accept everything her mother says. She begins to grow frustrated with her life. She doesn't want to be locked in her house forever.

We don't know Emmy as well. The way the character was written I wondered if she was supposed to be mentally handicapped in some way, or if she was just very young and naive. She thinks about things in a very simplistic way. Sophie's thought process was much more mature. We see Emmy's fierce determination to find her child, and feel her pain when she's trapped in the hospital and they won't let her leave. She knows she's not crazy, she only wants to find her child. When she leaves the hospital though, that's it. We don't know what happened to her, the years between when her story ends and when Sophie's picks up. I would have liked to learn more about Emmy.

I also wish there had been more to the end. What happened? I felt like it ended kind of abruptly. I wanted more. I really did enjoy it though. It was a page-turner. Even though I knew how it would come together, I really wanted to know how it was going to get there.

You Are My Only comes out October 25.

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