You Are My Only by Beth Kephart

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 opens Sophie’s eyes, giving her 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.

Beth Kephart is a relatively new author to me, but she appears to be very well-known in the US, as her books seem very thought-provoking and well-written. So when I noticed You Are My Only on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read and review the book because I really wanted to see what everyone else saw about Beth’s writing and her novels. Despite the fact You Are My Only wasn’t my favourite novel ever, I can see why Beth’s so widely regarded as a brilliant, brilliant author.

You Are My Only tells the dual-story of Emmy Rane and of Sophie. Emmy Rane has suffered a devastating loss after her baby was kidnapped one day, and she’s willing to do all she can to get her Baby back. Sophie, on the other hand, has grown up without being let outdoors. All her life has been spend in the four walls of whatever house she and her mother are living in. So when Sophie befriends a neighbour, Joey, she realises there’s a lot more to life than what her mother tells her there is. The novel goes back and forth with each chapter from Emmy to Sophie to Emmy to Sophie and back again; as Sophie learns more about the world thanks to Joey and his Aunts and how Emmy tries to desperately track down her Baby.

Kephart’s writing is something else entirely. It’s not necessarily my kind of writing style – with choppy sentences and poetic words and sentences but I prefer more descriptions, more actions, rather than the breathless way in which You Are My Only is written. It’s a strange way to write a book and it’s not a style I generally get on with. The constant jumping around, particularly during Emmy’s story was hard to keep up with. One minute she’s at a train station, the next a hospital and there was no description in between to tell us what had happened, leaving me a bit muddled. (To compound my confusion, I was reading the book as my bedtime book, meaning I was tired and sleepy; I definitely think you need all your faculties to read and understand the book properly.

Sophie’s story was infinitely easier to follow than Emmy’s and so, it was Sophie’s I gravitated to, Sophie’s I yearned for more of. I liked seeing how the girl handled being out in the world, behind her mum’s back. I enjoyed the secrecy, enjoyed the way she loved to be out and to be interacting with Joey and his Aunts. So despite the fact I did, at times, struggle with Emmy’s tale, Sophie’s kept me going, Sophie’s kept me reading right until the end. I think if I’d have been more awake whilst reading I wouldn’t have found Emmy’s story as confusing as I did, but there you have it. I’d definitely recommend the book, because Kephart is hugely talented; it might not be my personal kind of book, but I can appreciate just how clever Kephart writes and I’ll certainly be looking to read another of her books at some point because she’s an excellent, excellent writer.

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