Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury
Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury is a touching, beautifully written story published by Zondervan, copyright 2010. It's 320 pages with discussion questions that make it possible to use the novel for a study group. I smiled, laughed, and cried my way through it and didn't want to put it down.
Holden Harris is eighteen years old and locked away in a prison of autism. Ella Reynolds is a popular cheerleader who seems to live the ideal life and have everything a girl could want down to the football hero, until she catches him bullying and breaks up with him.
She's drawn to Holden, and his love of music and drama makes her decide to reach out to him. She discovers they're old friends while spending time with the family photo albums. The same music they shared as young children bring them together again, after a decade of being torn apart by their families. Ella and Holden's mothers were best friends until his autism drove their friendship apart. Ella and Holden's dads were friends until the same wedge planted itself between their relationship. Ella's mother and father grow apart. Holden's father finds escape on a shrimp boat in dangerous seas and risks his life to avoid a son he's unable to reach. Holden lost his Ella, but their relationship wasn't the only one lost.
Ella reaches out to a special-needs student at her school and finds the childhood friend who left her a decade earlier. He's never forgotten her, and music and drama bring them together again. Can Holden break the chains that hold him in his own private prison? Will Ella and the music he loves be the keys to unlock Holden Harris for the world?
This novel will rip your heart in two as Holden Harris transforms from the beast of autism into a prince. Bullying, suicide, and marriages falling apart are handled in such a way to make this a truly life-changing novel, and it's Holden Harris who changes lives and becomes an inspiration to so many. It didn't take Ella long to realize who the true prince of Fulton High was.
Though the disability in this book is autism, anyone who loves a child with special needs will enjoy this novel. It's a great adult and teen read. Ella wonders what happened to her family and discovers they all lost with Holden's loss, but God works a miracle and Holden is the instrument He uses to renew hope and bring these families together again. Their lives are unlocked with music, drama, Holden, and love, the type of love that despite all odds never goes away. Even when one mother pushes them all apart, the hearts carry that love locked away inside for over a decade, and Ella realizes Holden wasn't the only one who needed unlocking.