Before you take a stand…you got to take a chance.
Holden Harris is an eighteen-year-old locked in a prison of autism. Despite his quiet ways and quirky behaviors, Holden is very happy and socially normal—on the inside, in a private world all his own. In reality he is bullied at school by kids who only see that he is very different.
Ella Reynolds is part of the “in” crowd. A cheerleader and star of the high school drama production, her life seems perfect. When she catches Holden listening to her rehearse for the school play, she is drawn to him…the way he is drawn to the music. Then Ella makes a dramatic discovery—she and Holden were best friends as children. Frustrated by the way Holden is bullied and horrified at the indifference of her peers, Ella decides to take a stand against the most privileged and popular kids at school. Including her boyfriend, Jake.
Ella believes miracles can happen in the unlikeliest places, and that just maybe an entire community might celebrate from the sidelines. But will Holden’s praying mother and the efforts of Ella and a cast of theater kids be enough to unlock the prison that contains Holden? This time, friendship, faith, and the power of a song must be strong enough to open the doors to the miracle Holden needs.
Unlocked is one of Karen Kingsbury’s older stand-alone novels, but is one I have loved for years and years. I’ve read it at least three times now, and I have no idea how I’ve gone this long without actually reviewing it. So, since I had a hankering to read it again, I decided this would be the time I would finally get around to reviewing it. Unlocked has been one of my favorite novels of all time ever since I first read it, and even now I cannot make it through even half of the story without bawling. Holden’s story touches me deeply every time I read it, and I cannot even think of this book without exclaiming over how wonderful of a book it is and how much it touches my heart. I don’t know what it is about me that draws this story to me, but I do know what it is about the story. It is a book of compassion, and faith, and miracles, and a boy who is by far the kindest, sweetest person to ever grace the face of the earth—though not everyone realized it—and if I could ever write a book half this touching and meaningful, I would be satisfied.
Holden Harris may be locked in a cage of autism, but that doesn’t keep him from being full of love and compassion for others, and being the perfect social butterfly in his own world. There are so many realizations we make about Holden as the book goes on, and each one only shows just how beautiful of a person he is. Just because he is a little different from others, and has trouble openly interacting with people, doesn’t mean he isn’t full of God’s love and compassion for people. Once you get to know Holden, you find that there isn’t a sweeter person on the face of the earth, and you cannot help but want a miracle for him just as badly as his mother and Ella do.
Ella Reynolds is another wonderful character. Though she has faced so many struggles since the days when she used to be friends with Holden, when she sees the way the “in” crowd treats people like Holden, she is angered by the injustice of it all, and even longs to help Holden. That chance comes when she discovers he wants to listen to her and the rest of the drama team rehearsing for their play, and she makes it possible for him to listen in. As days go by, Ella begins to realize just how overrated the “in” crowd is, and just how much more meaningful it is to be friends with people who actually truly care about you. And as she goes about trying to help Holden find his miracle, she realizes she just might be the one receiving a miracle as well.
All in all, I think it’s pretty clear that I love this novel; if the fact that I’ve already read it multiple times doesn’t make that obvious, this review does. Unlocked has to be, by far, one of my favorite books by Karen, and it definitely has a place on my all-time favorites list. It has earned its ranking of all five bookshelves, that is for sure, and I know that this isn’t the last time that I will be re-reading this novel. I’m not entirely sure how I’ve gone this long without actually having my own copy of the book, but rest assured, it is sitting in my Amazon cart right now, so that will change very soon and then I’ll be able to read it any time I want.
To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.
All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Karen Kingsbury and Zondervan Publishing.