You Are My Only - Beth Kephart
Released October 25, 2011
Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth
*Note that this is a young adult novel, but I think many women will be able to relate to one of the characters and therefore think it would have a great market in women's fiction, so I'm posting the review here.
Let me start by saying I loved You Are My Only, but I'm not sure I'd qualify it as being young adult. I obviously read it as an adult, a parent, and my understanding of maternal bonds really helped with the impact this story has on the reader. I'm not sure a teenager will understand those parental bonds.
Emmy Rane became a mother just barely out of her teenage years. Her baby daughter is the only thing keeping her sane, as she deals with her marriage to an abusive man. One afternoon, she brings Baby outside to the swing and then realizes she left the blanket inside and runs quickly inside to retrieve it. When she returns, Baby is no where to be found.
Fourteen-year-old Sophie has spent her life moving from town to town with an overprotective mother who insists on homeschooling her. In their latest home, Sophie secretly befriends a boy and his whimsical aunts. Being part of the outside world, even if she must keep her activities hidden from her mother, Sophie starts to develop an independent streak. When her mother goes to work, Sophie's curiosity gets the best of her and she begins to unpack the boxes her mother says are forbidden to her. What Sophie finds changes her life.
You Are My Only is told through the two difference perspectives. Emmy side of the story tells of her desperation as she searches to find her baby. Sophie's side tells of a confined lifestyle where she's not allowed to be in the public eye. Her first 14 years have been spent hiding in houses and being told to hide whenever someone comes to the door. Readers know from the start that Sophie is Emmy's missing daughter, but it's still gripping watching Sophie learn about her past and following Emmy's tragic story because nothing comes easy for this young woman.
The writing style may take a little getting used to. Sophie's first-person account can be choppy at times with very short sentences, but realistically that is how many teens think. My own 14 year old is the queen of short sentence and frequent subject changes. To me, Emmy's side is unique. She tends to focus on specific details, such as her baby girl's yellow sock. Once her daughter disappears, she clings to that yellow sock. It's an honest reaction that any mother would feel in her shoes. I simply can't imagine how any woman copes after a child goes missing and I hope I never experience the pain because I believe it would be brutal.
You Are My Only is a gripping, powerful story. My only concern is that many teens may not truly understand or be able to sympathize with Emmy after her daughter disappears. As a result, I tend to think the book would have a much better market in women's fiction.