Simply Reading: You Are My Only

Although it’s Thursday, and I often share some poetry on Thursday, instead I’m sharing some thoughts on Beth Kephart’s most recent novel, You Are My Only.

Actually, in a way I am sharing some poetry, because Beth’s writing is so poetic that it seems as if I were reading poetry when I read her novels.

But just because she has a lovely, lyrical way with words, don’t think that she can’t create interesting, sympathetic characters and a darn good plot.

Because she can.

You Are My Only is two stories in one. It’s the story of 20 year old Emmy Rane, and what happens when her baby daughter is stolen from her one summer day, how Emmy’s life is turned upside down, how she is placed in a mental hospital, how she suffers and longs for her Baby every single day. It’s also the story of Sophie, a 14 year old girl whose mother has always kept her under lock and key, moved her from place to place, always trying to escape from some amorphous No Good. At last, in typical teenage fashion, Sophie starts to question everything in her life, particularly the way her mother forces her to live. With the help of her first real friend, and his loving family, Sophie gains the courage to dig deeper into her mother’s past and discover some amazing truths about herself and her past. It’s also the story of some very wise and kind strangers who enter these women’s lives at just the perfect time and give them the confidence and support they need and have never received before.

Like every one of Beth Kephart’s novels, this one tugs at your heartstrings from the first word. There’s something about the way Beth writes that makes it clear she sees so deeply into the souls of her characters, and so the reader cares deeply about them too. Like this passage when Emmy tells her new friend Arlen about her missing Baby:

I let the darkness fall between us. I let the silence go on and I let the tears come up and I let the stars that come out shine and then there’s nothing for me but talking – telling this strange, dark man how the happiest of all my days was the day Baby was born. “As though I was born right alongside my little girl,” I say, and he nods – I think he does. I tell him how Mama died before she made acquaintance with my Baby, and how I’ve learned mothering on my own and also from the doctor who wrote the book of rules that tells you what to do. I married the same week I graduated high school, I say, and I explain as how by then I didn’t have choices, and I’ve done all my new learning on my own.

But this novel, more than any of Beth’s others, had me on the edge of my seat. The two stories, told in alternating chapters, began to converge like speeding trains on opposite tracks, and didn’t come to a complete halt until the very last paragraph.

Although marketed as a book for young adults, there are no age limitations on a beautifully written story like this one. But I wish more young adults would read books like this – books that make you realize the power of loving human relationships and the ability to redeem yourself, books that explore the deepest of human emotions universal to every age, books that elevate beautiful language to an art form.

You Are My Only is such a book.

Read it whatever your age.


11 thoughts on “Simply Reading: You Are My Only

  1. This lovely book is waiting patiently on Sparky, my Kindle, while I move through the many books on my list for review, etc. But now I’m throwing caution to the winds and moving this one up…ahead of some others.

    I love this kind of story, and can’t wait to start reading it!

  2. I have only read one of Beth Kephart’s books so far – The Heart is not A Size – but I want to read all of her books because, like you said in the beginning of your review, her prose is like poetry, lyrical, elegant and beautiful. Emmy Rae has already found her way into my heart in the few reviews I’ve read of You Are My Only and I cannot wait to read her story. The same for young Sophie. I am so anxious to discover the outcome of this captivating book!

    Your review has caused me to feel very excited about this book. I love a book that totally absorbs me and keeps me on the edge of my street I love how you describe Beth’s character development ~ that she sees deeply into the souls of her characters. That’s what makes them so relatable and intriguing, I suspect!

    Thank you for your wonderful revirew. I just might have to purchase You Are My Only today!

  3. Oh do get it, Amy. I read it and now my older d is reading it, and it’s leading to good discussions about writing and character. I’m so pleased that she’s engrossed in the beauty of it.

  4. I love this cover, and yes I would buy this only just so I could look at it all the time, but the description is also very good. I didn’t think this was my kind of book, because issues is so not my thing, but after reading your thoughts about it I want to try it. So thank you!

    • I’m not into “issues” novels either, Nina, and this isn’t one at all. The characters are key, and their relationships, and they way they approach their lives. Plus, the writing is lovely and so carefully crafted.

      I hope you read it and enjoy it 🙂

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