Monday, November 1, 2010

Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury

My thoughts: This is Karen Kingsbury's best book. In this book, Karen delves into the world of autism. Instead of focusing on the debate on whether or not autism is a result of too many vaccinations (although Holden's mom believes that is the cause of Holden's withdrawal), she focuses on the family and relationship dynamics that are affected by autism.

Holden, the protagonist, is locked inside of himself. Through his thoughts, the reader gets a glimpse of the struggle between what he feels and what he can express. When he "meets" Ella, who is really his childhood friend, Holden begins to find a way to express himself: music. Their relationship develops despite educators who don't believe Holden can break out of his autism and bullies who prey on anyone who is different.

The novel also takes the reader into the strain stereotypes of autism put on families and even friendships. Ella's parents fear their daughter may "catch" the autistic traits Holden displays and therefore distance themselves from Holden's family. Holden's mother and father struggle to deal with the change in their son and drift apart from one another.

Music, the universal language, draws all of the characters together. Music often speaks for us when we can't find the words, and it is through music that Holden finds his voice.

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