Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You Are My Only Moving Story About Strength, Resilience

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Sophie Marks doesn't want much really, just the things the average 14-year-old takes for granted: school, friends, laughter, an occasional trip to the mall or the movies. It's so little to wish for, but Sophie knows she'll never get any of those things. Not as long as she lives with Cheryl Marks. Her mother is so afraid of the outside world, so paranoid of what she calls the "No Good," that she refuses to leave the house any more than she absolutely has to. Since Sophie doesn't work or go to school, she's never allowed to stray outdoors. Her mother insists she remain inside, with the door locked and the shades drawn against prying eyes. Sophie obeys, as she always has, because it's the only way to keep her mother calm. But she can't stop hoping, wishing things were different.

As isolated as the Marks' new rental home is, it's not the only one hidden back in the woods. When Sophie spies a boy about her age playing outside with his dog, the urge to reach out to him is so strong that she does the unspeakable - she talks to him. Soon, she's creeping outside to play baseball with him. Then, she's sneaking over to the house where Joey Rudd lives with his two aunts. Their home life seems so sweet, so normal, that lonely Sophie can't stay away. She has to be extra careful, though - if her mother knew she was consorting with strangers, Cheryl would pack up their meager belongings and drag Sophie onto the next train out of there.

Sophie's small rebellion sparks a curiosity she's never felt before. Now, she's wondering about her mother: Why is Cheryl so afraid? As she sifts through the few momentos her mother's kept from their life together, Sophie discovers a shocking truth, one that has her questioning everything she's ever known to be true.

The premise of You Are My Only, a new YA novel by Beth Kephart, intrigued me from the moment I heard about it. The novel's execution, unfortunately, doesn't quite live up to its potential. Still, I enjoyed this bittersweet story about the awakening of a girl whose spirit refuses to be broken, no matter what. It's a tale about desperation, fear, hope and, ultimately, healing. The book's not as affecting as similar titles (Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams, say), but it's definitely a moving novel that shows how damaging a parent's mental illness can be for a child. Our heroine's bravery, though, teaches a more powerful lesson, one that celebrates the strength, resilience and courage shown by all the real-life Sophies who struggle with this problem every single day. and, somehow, manage to survive

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs) and mature themes/situations

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

3 comments:

  1. Hmmm, this one sounds quite interesting but I'm already guessing what the bid mystery is. Maybe i'm wrong???

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  2. Maybe I shouldn't have written the review like that (trying to be all mysterious, you know) because it's not a secret that the MC was abducted at birth. We know that from the beginning - the story's about HER discovering the truth.

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  3. nice review. you've piqued my interested without giving anything away.

    i am super interested to see where she comes out of all this business. love that.

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