Holden Harris is different. He looks normal, but he is withdrawn and only speaks through flashcards. Holden is autistic. His classmates don’t understand him and consequently bully him. When popular Ella Reynolds spots him watching one of the rehearsals for the school musical, she requests permission for him to sit in on their practices. As their friendship grows, Ella learns that Holden is indeed freer than his seemingly “perfect” peers.
Through their unlikely friendship, Holden learns to interact more with those around him, culminating in the breakthrough no one ever thought possible. With each victory, people catch a glimpse of the beautiful soul inside the imperfect shell.
Karen Kingsbury delivers yet another heartwarming story in Unlocked. Though I’ve never interacted with autistic people, Holden seemed very believable. The young man at the end is very different from the forlorn teenager we meet at the beginning, but the changes occur so subtly they creep up on the reader unaware.
Holden’s pure faith in God and love for others — even those who bully him — blessed me greatly. He is such a refreshing character in a world where forgiveness is sparse. Kingsbury tackles issues very real issues such as bullying and the fatal effects it can have. I found this especially poignant because as a teacher I see bullying every day among my students. In the end, I don’t want to look back like the drama teacher and wonder if I could have done more.
Unlocked is only for readers willing to be challenged. I strongly recommend keeping a box of tissues nearby.
Review copy provided by publisher.
**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.