I debated about the topic of my first post but since we decided that telling you about ‘orphan authors’, those wonderful authors who don’t get enough attention, I realized that I had my first post had to be about Beth Kephart, a marvelous Young Adult author. Beth is an online friend (we’ve never met), but we became friends because I read one of her books and loved it. I don’t remember how we connected, but we did. If you love literature, you’ll love her books. (You should also read her blog: beth-kephart.blogspot.com. It is smart, literate, lovingly written.
Without further adieu, my review of her latest book, You Are My Only:
You Are My Only, the latest gem from Beth Kephart, is about family, losing one and gaining one. Sophie is fourteen, home-schooled and alone. Her mother works at the local diner all day, leaving Sophie home and cautioning her to lock the doors and not venture out. She has her home-school assignments, the current one being creating the perfect icosahedron (look it up, if you don’t know what it is). But there’s a whole world next door that Sophie sees as she peers out her attic window. She watches Joey, the same age, play catch with his dog, Harvey. She sees his aunts Cloris and Helen, one physically strong and the other weak, lovingly tend to each other and their nephew. Sophie can no longer abide her isolation, and willing to accept the consequences if caught, ventures outside, only to be embraced into the next door family. She partakes of custard and lemonade and readings from Willa Cather, the total opposite of her Spartan, hermit-like life.
Conversely, Emmy, not much older than Sophie, puts her infant in the backyard swing and realizes the blanket she wants to lay on is indoors. In the split seconds it takes to run up the thirteen steps to the bedroom and back down those thirteen steps, Baby is kidnapped. She searches and calls out, but to no avail. The police aren’t successful either. Her abusive husband, Peter, berates her. She follows the railroad tracks trying to find Baby and is on the brink of letting an on-coming train hit her in her grief when she is saved by a wanderer, Arlen. Together they search, with no luck. When Emmy thinks she sees a woman carrying Baby at the train station, she causes a scene. The police arrive and once Emmy is in custody, Peter has her committed. No one will help her, except her roommate Autumn, who plans their escape to find Baby.
To tell you any more of the story would be to tell too much, if I haven’t already done that. In some books, it’s the story that captures you and in some, it’s the characters. In You Are My Only, it is that rare combination of story and character. Kephart has created two (almost) separate but equal stories, both intriguing and engrossing. In addition, she has created the perfect characters. I defy anyone not to fall in love with Sophie, Joey and Aunts Cloris and Helen or Emmy and Autumn and even Harvey, the dog. I defy anyone not to hate (maybe intensely dislike) Sophie’s mother or Peter. As always, Kephart chooses her words with care, and while the language is not as ‘ethereal’ as in some of her recent books, her images and descriptions and wording remain essential in understanding the characters and surroundings. There are secrets that need to be unearthed and things to ponder. There are relationships that you are jealous you are not a part of and those you are glad you have not experienced. You can read You Are My Only quickly and enjoy the story or you can read it slowly and savor every word and nuance and description. Either way, you must read Beth Kephart’s latest addition to Young Adult literature, You Are My Only. More than likely, after you’ve read it once, you’ll go back and read it again. I know I will.
Other books by Beth include:
Dangerous Neighbors (my personal favorite)
Nothing But Ghosts
House of Dance
The Heart is Not a Size
Susan here… this is Ed’s post, but I just have to butt in (and no I didn’t ask his permission) here because I love the way Beth writes. I truly can’t say enough about the truth of her characters and the beauty of her prose. She truly is a must read and an “orphan author” that needs to find a home in your heart.
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