Title: You Are My Only
Author: Beth Kephart
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“Emmy Rane is married at nineteen, a mother by twenty. Trapped in a life with a husband she no longer loves, Baby is her only joy. Then one sunny day in September, Emmy takes a few fateful steps away from her baby and returns to find her missing. All that is left behind is a yellow sock.
Fourteen years later, Sophie, a homeschooled, reclusive teenage girl is forced to move frequently and abruptly from place to place, perpetually running from what her mother calls the “No Good.” One afternoon, Sophie breaks the rules, ventures out, and meets Joey and his two aunts. It is this loving family that gives Sophie the courage to look into her past. What she discovers changes her world forever…
The riveting stories of Emmy and Sophie—alternating narratives of loss, imprisonment, and freedom regained—escalate with breathless suspense toward an unforgettable climax.”
Thoughts: You Are My Only is one of those novels where the reader knows from the first word that all is not well but that the danger or key issue is well-hidden. A tale of two novels, the narrative bounces between Emmy and Sophie, balancing the despair and desperation of one with the terror and curiosity of the other. It is a powerful little novel that showcases the evil in the world as well as the good.
On the surface, Sophie’s childhood is odd but not overly so. She is homeschooled, which is not unusual, So what if the topic she is learning is very advanced for her age? Again, it is unusual but nothing which should raise red flags. Yet, it does. Piece by minuscule piece, Sophie shares enough clues to confirm the fears of the reader, which draws the reader’s ire as much as it does one’s sympathy.
While Sophie’s story is told with hints, Emmy’s story hits the reader with an emotional punch and does not let up once throughout her narrative. Ms. Kephart captures the anguish and loss of self that accompanies every parent’s worst nightmare, and the reader is left to feel Emmy’s pain as his or her own. What happens to her after her discovery of Baby’s disappearance is even worse, and the reader can do nothing but read in horror at everything she is left to endure.
You Are My Only is an extremely fast-paced, gut-wrenching novel of bravery, self-discovery, and friendship. Through her relationship with Joey and his aunts, Sophie gains the courage she needs to finally seek the answers to questions that have been bothering her for years. Both traverse unspoken dangers in the guise of other people and yet are saved by strangers who later become friends. Beautifully written, Ms. Kephart manages to capture the emotional turmoil and devastation that comes with losing everything one holds dear. Fans of Ms. Kephart will not be disappointed with her latest work, while those unfamiliar with her will no longer wonder why everyone raves about her novels.