Unlocked is the first Karen Kingsbury book I’ve ever read. I know, I know, I’m practically the last person on the planet. I’ve known of Ms. Kingsbury and heard good things about her books for quite awhile, but I just never got around to reading one. When Zondervan recently offered me the opportunity to review her newest title, Unlocked, I decided it was time to give her a try!
Unlocked tells the story of eighteen year old Holden Harris, who is autistic. In his own private world, Holden is happy and completely normal, but in reality he’s the target of bullies at school. Ella Reynolds, a popular student, is horrified by the behavior of her classmates and friends and drawn to him. She notices how he’s drawn to music when he hears her and other students rehearsing for a school play and convinces the drama instructor to let him sit in on the rehearsals. The effect on Holden is incredible, and as he begins to open up a friendship and special connection develops between him and Ella.
I really enjoyed the book. I hesitate to say too much and give away the story, but themes of bullying, judging those who are “different”, and even teen suicide are explored. It’s apparently based on the true story of a family Ms. Kingsbury was acquainted with whose autistic son made incredible advances when he was allowed to participate in a similar musical production. I thought she did an excellent job portraying Holden and what was going on inside his head. There were a few parts that seemed a bit “cliched” and a couple of the minor characters seemed stereotypical to me, but overall I found it a sweet, moving story. In fact, I think it’s an excellent book for young adults to read as well and have given it to my oldest daughter to add to her stack.