You Are My Only

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You Are My Only

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kephart (Dangerous Neighbors) writes a psychologically taut novel, juxtaposing the thoughts of Sophie, a teen kidnapped during her infancy, and her grieving birthmother, Emmy, who is institutionalized after a breakdown. For as long as she can remember, Sophie has led the life of a prisoner, homeschooled and homebound by a frail woman she believes to be her mother; she has no idea how much Emmy has loved her and missed her. Then, gazing out an attic window—Sophie’s only connection to the outside world—she sees a boy, and when she finds the courage to step outside her sheltered world to meet him, she finds a friend that she can trust. Succinct, emotionally packed chapters capture similarities between mother and daughter, the depth of their despair, their common desire to be free, and their poetic vision of the world. As Sophie begins to find clues about her captor’s secret past, readers will be on the edge of their seats waiting for the inevitable, liberating moment that will change the course of the lives of both mother and daughter. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
VOYA - Lucy Schall
Nineteen-year-old Emmy marries into an abusive relationship, has a baby at twenty, and loses her to a kidnapper. Fourteen years later, Emmy and Sophie, the lost daughter, tell their stories in alternating chapters of haunting poetic prose. Emmy obsessively hunts for her baby, and her husband commits her to a mental hospital. Sophie is imprisoned by isolated home schooling, frequent and abrupt moves, and her "mother's" demand for perfection, as the two run from the "No Good." Fascinated by Joey, the boy next door, Sophie breaks the rules, ventures outside her home, and finds a loving family whose support encourages her to explore her past. Both women eventually achieve confirmation and freedom. Emmy finds love in an accidental encounter, and a close and tragic friendship within the factory-style, harsh hospital environment. Sophie discovers love and support in her neighbor's home as she identifies with the brave suffering of Joey's aunts, life partners soon to be separated by death. The novel illustrates the aunts' claim that tragedy and happiness are often the same, as it emphasizes the importance of respect for each individual and questions who should make the rules. This sophisticated exploration of love, power, and creativity—reminiscent of situations and themes in Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees (Penguin, 2002/VOYA August 2002)—will have a strong appeal for older female readers, both young adult and adult, but will require pushing for a larger audience. Reviewer: Lucy Schall
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—From the opening lines voiced by 14-year-old Sophie Marks, readers will know that something about her reclusive life is definitely wrong. Homeschooled by a mother obsessed with order, who keeps them moving to avoid the "No Good," Sophie disobeys instructions to stay hidden and makes contact with Joey, the boy next door, and the two old women who care for him. Her chapters alternate with those narrated by Emmy Rane, a young mother whose baby is kidnapped during the few minutes she goes inside for a blanket. Her husband's accusations and police suspicions about Emmy's erratic behavior lead to her incarceration in a mental hospital. Drawn into the warmth of Joey's unconventional family, Sophie gains courage to challenge her mother's prohibitions and uncovers the truth of her past. The dual narratives reveal losses that all of the characters have suffered. Miss Cloris and Miss Helen abandoned their plans of travel and adventure to care for Joey after the death of his family. Even the kidnapper acted from a twisted logic of loss. Although Emmy's and Sophie's stories converge in a reunion, the future remains uncertain. Kephart ably creates two distinct voices. Emmy's fragile mental state includes flashbacks to her own childhood and fragmented accounts of her frantic search for Baby. Sophie's account of the love and perseverance of Joey's family bolsters her own resolve for a different life. Readers will hope that the open ending can include room for them in Sophie's future. An evocative exploration of many forms of loss and survival.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Kirkus Reviews

Theheartbreaking tale of akidnapped child and her bereft mother unfolds in alternating narratives in this intense and lovely novel.

Fourteen-year-old Sophie has been successively uprooted by the stern, sour woman she knows as her mother, always on the run from people and their questions. Her story begins as they are settling into theirlatest rented house and she meets Joey, a neighbor her age who liveswith two warm and gentle elderly women, a couple,who eventually help her in discovering a horrible secret about her past. In a separate thread, young Emmy frantically searches for her abducted baby but is deemed by the authorities to have suffered a breakdown and is committed to a psychiatric hospital. Though there is never any question about how the two stories are related, they focus on different periods of time for the two protagonists. Though occasionally straying into melodrama, the ripped-from-the-headlines plot is here treated with tenderness and depth. Kephart's deft employ of descriptive language—"Past the door is scuffle and howl, the slow and the fast moving. I see it through the window glass, the glass all scratched with black diamonds"—is extremely effective in setting mood and creating imagery.

Though the initial draw may be the sensational subject matter, readers will come away with much more.(Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606845332
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA
  • Publication date: 12/10/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,239,352
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Beth Kephart

Beth Kephart was nominated for a National Book Award for her memoir A Slant of Sun. Her first novel for teens, Undercover, received four starred reviews and was named a Best Book by Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and Amazon.com. In 2005 Beth was awarded the Speakeasy Poetry Prize.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Haunting and emotional

    In the few seconds it took for Emmy to get a blanket, her baby was taken. Young and in a bad marriage, Baby was the only thing good in Emmy's life. Fourteen ears later, the baby that was taken from Emmy is living with the woman she believes is her mother. When her desire to know who she is and why she has to always stay away from The No Good becomes too strong, she decides to find out where she really belongs.

    This book was heartbreaking and emotional. The story is told by Emmy in the days and weeks after Baby is taken, and then fast forwards fourteen years later, in alternating chapters, when Sophie (Baby) starts to figure out that there is more to her story than her "mother" is telling her. Beth Kephart writes about Emmy's panic with such force that your heart stays in your throat and you feel her unraveling with every minute that passes. Sophie's story is just as emotional. Her life is carefully constructed and her days filled with learning, but as she starts asking herself more and more questions, that insular world starts to open up. She meets a boy next door who is living with his two aunts and their friendship gives her the strength to discover who she is. The author very skillfully pulls you into Sophie's isolated existence and boxes you in right along with her.

    I felt every word of this book. It was full of heartbreak and desperation. Emmy's determination to find Baby was so real that it took my breath away. The best part about this book was that I wasn't sure if the ending was really happy or not. Both voices were written so beautifully that I could not really tell you what I wanted for Sophie, in the end. That greyness within a situation that seems black and white kept me awake long after I finished the book. You are really missing out if you don't take the opportunity to read this. I gave it 5 stars.

    I received this book as a galley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Well-written and engaging

    Twenty-year-old Emmy Rane married young and had a baby soon after. Trapped in a dull, meaningless world, her baby girl is her only bright spot. One summer day, Emmy leaves her daughter unattended in her swing for just a few minutes while she runs inside to grab a blanket. When she returns, her daughter is gone, the only trace of her the yellow sock left on the ground. Desperate to find her daughter, Emmy runs off in the middle of the night wandering aimlessly around town. Her search takes her to the train station where she is taken into custody. When her husband turns on her and has her taken to the psych ward it seems all hope of ever finding her baby is lost.

    Fourteen-year-old Sophie lives a reclusive life with her mother. She has been shuffled around her entire life, constantly on the run from what her mother calls "The No Good". When Sophie befriends Joey, the neighbor boy, and his two loving aunts, she is determined to make sure that she and her mother stay put. The only problem is that by contacting Joey from her attic, Sophie is breaking the rules. She is home schooled, is to stay inside at all times, and must never make contact with anyone outside their home. If her mother finds out she will pick them up and leave again, which is the last thing Sophie wants.

    You are my Only is told from both Sophie and Emmy's viewpoints in alternating chapters. I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read anything by Ms. Kephart before. I am definitely a fan. Though not surprising, the story was engaging, fast-paced and heart-breaking without being too melodramatic. The characters were all very well-drawn and the prose soars. I especially loved how Ms. Kephart played with language. It was the way she used the language that made the story so engaging and the characters feel so real. The last time I felt this way was when I read Emma Donohue's Room. I highly recommend this one.

    (Review based on an Advanced Reader's Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    Beautiful

    Looking through the window to a life that goes on without you - a world you're not allowed to inhabit.

    The trees green, the snow falls, a dog barks, close enough to touch but out of reach

    I read the stories of Sophie and Emmy, one beautiful word at a time, savoring the words and images evoked by the poetry Beth Kephart brings to us. Eager to turn the page but yet reluctant to let it go, I read on into the night knowing I needed sleep. How can I turn out the light when Emmy and Sophie yearn for what they can't have? How can I leave them when they are trapped and alone?

    I am close to the end - forty pages to go and I'm weeping. Why? The beauty of the story, the fate of Emmy and Sophie, but most of all I just don't want this story to end. I want to stay with Emmy and see a reunion too long in the making. Beth Kephart has created characters so real I feel their pain at being torn apart from one another. Feel the love that Emmy has for Baby, the love that Miss Cloris and Miss Helen feel for one another and the fear of being pulled apart.

    I reluctantly finish the most beautiful book I've read in a very long time, but I joyfully pass it on to the next person on the list.

    I beseech you to read You Are My Only, and promise you characters and a story that will live with you for a long time to come.

    To Beth - thank you.

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  • Posted February 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Beautiful writing.

    First and foremost, the writing was breathtakingly beautiful in this novel. I loved the descriptions really felt like I could picture the scenery and the story.

    I felt like in the beginning of the book, I was pretty confused. It switches from Sophie, a child who never leaves her home, to Emmy, who loses her Baby and goes out trying to find her.

    Poor Sophie. She is stuck inside a home all day long without having the ability to speak to anyone but her mother. I was proud of her for venturing out to meet Joey, the neighbor boy, and his two aunts.

    Emmy's story was just heartbreaking. She loses her Baby and she goes on this journey trying to find her and ends up in the mental hospital. I can't imagine losing a child like that and I really felt horrible for her.

    At the end of the story, although a lot of questions get answered, but I still felt like I had more. I wanted to know more about Sophie's mom and her life. I wanted to know what happened after it was all over.

    The ending felt a bit abrupt and I feel like that's why I still have so many questions.

    Overall an interesting read and one I did enjoy.

    I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted November 12, 2011

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    Beth Kephart has again written a remarkable book. We have read about abducted children in the news and this is the story of one and her rescue. Teens will enjoy, as will adults, the vivid images and characters.

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  • Posted October 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great story

    The story follows Emmy and Sophie on their journey after the abduction. Emmy ends up at State medical ward for some strange reason I don't know. All she did was stay out all night looking for her missing Baby. To me that seems like a pretty reasonable response to something so devastating. Half of the story follows her while in State and the other half follows Sophie and her life with her "mother". Sophie of course has no idea that she was abducted by this woman that she calls her mother. Sophie abides by her mothers rules of staying in doors at all times and hiding when people come to the door... until she meets Joey.

    The grammar/slang was a bit hard for me to get used to. I found myself rereading parts of the dialogue to figure out what they were saying. It got a little better towards the end when I got used to it but for a while there I thought I was reading it wrong. That sort of took away from the book for me since it kept pulling me out of the story to try to figure out what was going on. However, I understand why the grammar was the way it was and I thought it was brilliant on the authors part.

    The story is captivating and I could have read it all in one sitting if I had the time. I really enjoyed reading Sophie's story and how meeting just a few people changed the way she saw things and she started to piece things together. The only thing I didn't care for was the ending. Yes it was predictable but it sort of just leaves you hanging. I got no closure from the ending and if left me wondering, "What happened next?" What happens with Arlen and Joey?

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Loved the writing style, but the story line itself was just so-so.

    Thank you read-a-thons! I think if it wasn't for a read-a-thon I participated in, I may have never actually finished this one. Initially, I was really drawn to reading this one, but once I started reading it, I couldn't get into it. I was hoping I would be shocked and crying.but that wasn't in the cards for me.

    Sophie is the character in the book I wanted to read about. I felt sorry for her. I was rooting for her from the get go. The situation, being abducted that is, without her even knowing it most of her life, was horrible. She was so sheltered. I was so happy when she finally started lying to her "mother" and ventured next door.

    Emmy was the character I struggled with. I'm almost 100 percent positive she was the reason it took me 26 days to read You Are My Only. I couldn't connect with her. I felt I should have been able to connect with her more than Sophie because she had her child abducted from her and I have children. The situations after the abduction that Emmy put herself in seemed.I'm not sure..unbelievable? Forced? Too out there? All I know is that I didn't like it. I found her story rather boring and repetitive.

    The best aspect to the story was Beth Kephart's writing style! I'm curious about the other novels she has written and what she may come up with next. You Are My Only COULD be a heartbreaking story, but it wasn't to me personally.

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Book!

    Here's the scoop: This will be the most extraordinary and probably one of the most memorable books you'll read for a long time. I suggest going right away to buy your hard copy, first edition because you'll want it in your personal library. I predict it will be one of the Top Best Books of 2011. It is so masterfully written that you could simply close your eyes and point on any given page, and you'll land at a beautiful turn of phrase or description. This is a book of the heart and soul. This is a book that only an author of the highest quality could write. The characters we learn to love: Emmy Rane, the delicate, damaged young mother whose baby is stolen; Sophie, the baby and teenager whom we come to know and love; Joey, her next door friend and companion-of-the-larger-world; Autumn, Emmy's precious person who helped; the awe-inspiring Aunts; and the man who made a difference... All of these people are believable; they come alive in the hands of Beth Kephart. I know them. I cried with and for them, and I laughed in joy and sorrow with them. The structure of this novel is one I have come to favor in every instance: the back and forth of individuals and their story lines. In "You Are My Only" we see the story from the perspectives of Emmy and Sophie. This kept the book running at such a pace that I held back to savour every page. I was so sad when the book ended. You know the feeling...didn't want it to end. But, it ended just perfectly, as I knew it would have to. The final line was poignant and rang with truth. This is a novel that can't be shared more than I have without giving too much away. This is a story that will so touch your heart and mind that you may want to reread it right after you finish it. I loved the book and recommend it to all of my friends and readers. It is a novel that will leave you somber, however, and I must tell you that; it's not one that you can expect to do other than make you think and hope. 5+ stars for this very beautiful book by a genius of a writer. Deborah/TheBookishDame

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    "YOU ARE MY ONLY" (GMTA REVIEW)

    "YOU ARE MY ONLY" BY BETH KEPHART

    This book is completely touching and the kind of story you just can't put down. Emmy Rane is a girl that married too young, a girl with a low mental capacity and her baby is all she has. Her husband seems to have only married her because he got her pregnant and there is no love in the relationship. So when she leaves the baby outside for just a minute while she runs in to get something and she is stolen, Emmy is blamed for it all. Even though the pain of her loss is easy to see she is dragged through the process of being treated as though she's guilty of her disappearance.

    Meanwhile, every other chapter highlights the life of Sophie, the baby that was stolen. Years later Sophie is still living with the woman that took her on that fateful day. Having been told time and again that they were running from the "No Good" she is forced to live a life of seclusion. When they move to a new town and she begins to fall for the boy next door she has to find a way to keep her 'mother' from finding out, scared she'll make them move yet again.

    The book is at once a psychological thriller and a moving story that will have you completely wrapped up to the point you can't let go. Cheering for the helpless while still unable to fully blame the ones responsible for the heartache, it's the kind of read that will leave you emotionally drained but satisfied in the end.

    Kitty Bullard / Great Minds Think Aloud

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  • Posted October 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A unique YA book

    Sophie is fourteen years old and living with her mother in run down houses. She is home-schooled, and the two of them have moved to new locations more often than Sophie can keep track of. When they land at a little house next to a boy named Joey and his two Aunts, Sophie realizes she is no longer interested in the nomadic life she has been living. Emmy is a nineteen-year-old mother whose child is taken from her in broad daylight. Emmy is heartbroken, but doesn't have a lot of time to mourn before she is thrown into a mental hospital on the outskirts of town. With little hope of finding her Baby, Emmy maneuvers through her grief and loss.

    This is the first book by Beth Kephart I have read and it was very interesting. Most notable is her writing style, which is loose and poetic and really quite beautiful. There is not a lot of happiness in this story, but the prose puts a softer edge to everything and makes it magical. The voices of the characters are also unique, as no one sounds all that educated. I'm not sure how else to describe the dialog, but once I got used to it, the dialog morphed into a character of its own. The alternating chapters between Emmy and Sophie were also confusing at first, with their ages being similar but so different. But as the reader realizes these girls are somehow connected, the pace becomes faster and more urgent until the climax at the end. It is a strange topic for a YA novel, with teen pregnancy, mental illness, and kidnapping, but I think YA readers will ultimately enjoy it. This is a challenging and tragic book that is well worth the time and effort. If you have not yet read any Kephart, give this new one a try!

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  • Posted September 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    wonderful...

    I was able to read a galley of YOU ARE MY ONLY. I was a fan of Kephart before reading YOU ARE MY ONLY and was pleased that I also loved the newest story from her brilliant mind. Kephart is both interesting and poetic in describing the stories of Emmy and Sophie. I was compelled to continue the story because of I had to see what would happen in this enthralling novel. You will not be disappointed by Kephart's new novel out October 25th.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 28, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2011

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