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September 26, 2022

You Are My Only: Book Review

By Wendy Robards

You Are My Only, by Beth Kephart.

From Nothing to Big Things, I think. From No One to Someone. It's a whole wide world out there. - from You Are My Only -

Emmy Rane is a mother -- first and foremost. She is young, married to a man who is a bully, and has a beautiful baby who is her whole life. So when a moment of inattention results in the disappearance of her child, Emmy's life is turned upside down.

Sophie is fourteen years old -- a captive in her own home, craving human contact and a life lived under a blue sky. She lives with a mother who is decidedly odd. Sophie has become used to the sudden changes in her world -- uprooting to move to a new place when the "No Good" threaten her mother's carefully constructed world. Then one day through an attic window she meets Joey, the boy next door, and his enthusiastic dog, Harvey. Joey lives with his two aunts, Miss Cloris and Miss Helen, who love him unconditionally. Sophie dares to break the rules and leave her house, entering the world of a family which is not only unconventional, but filled with love and cookies and warm custard.

You Are My Only is the story of these two characters, narrated in their alternating points of view. There is never really a mystery as to how they are connected because the story is not about mystery. The story is about mothers and children, nurturing and control, freedom and imprisonment, and that elusive thing in life which brings us happiness. Sophie's joy is simple -- to feel the sun on her face, to enjoy a cookie warm from the oven, to make a kite which will fly high and free.

Higher and higher goes the bright zinging kite, the collars and buttons and seams of its tail, the zippers and puff parts and dainty see-throughs. From far away, I hear Miss Cloris telling me to do as we planned to do, which is to say, let the kite go free. - from You Are My Only -

Beth Kephart's beautiful new novel is filled with grief and joy and something difficult to define which made me want to re-read it as soon as I had turned the final page. I adored the characters who are lovingly and carefully developed. Emmy and Sophie stole my heart. Miss Cloris and Miss Helen embody all that is wonderful about what motherhood really means. Autumn is a young woman who meets Emmy behind the walls of an institution -- she is a wonderful and tragic character whose spirit shines brightly and was one of my favorite characters of the book.

She leaped, furious, like a dancer to her bed. She began to hop, the mattress rasping and squeaking beneath her and the room starting to shake and I going dizzy. "I do my best thinking up here," she explained, not even a little out of breath, touching her toes when she jumped now, kicking her feet, grabbing at the back of her heels, jumping at a terrible speed, her brow wrinkled, her eyes glazed, her hair slapping her shoulders. - from You Are My Only -

Kephart has a way with words -- it is one reason I never miss a day without reading her blog posts. With the skill of a poet, she can create an image or a feeling or simply a way of seeing the world which is breathtaking.

In case you have not already figured it out -- I loved You Are My Only -- a book that takes the reader into the darkness and then shows them a way to return to the light. Beautifully written and astonishing, this is a book which I highly recommend for readers of all ages.

  • Quality of Writing: Five stars
  • Characters: Five stars
  • Plot: Four stars

Overall Rating: Five stars

You Are My Only is due for release in October through Egmont USA.

Read Beth Kephart's blog.

FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".

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Article © Wendy Robards. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-10-17
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