Book Description: 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.
My Review: I can't believe that somehow I've missed Karen Kingsbury. I have never read one of her books! So, when this blog tour became available I thought this looked like a good read. I have a young nephew-in-law who is autistic and so I wanted to read this book about Holden who is also autistic.
Well.my.stars! Was I ever shocked! This is a better-than-fantastic-read! As soon as I began reading this story I was completely taken into the lives of of Holden, his mom Tracy, sweet little Kate and tenderhearted Ella.
Tracy, as any parent would, longs for some sign that her son, Holden will reach out to her. A word , a hug, or even just a look. But NO! Holden is locked into his own world. A world where everything makes sense to him and no sense to those around him. Because Holden simply can't communicate except for his PECS cards(Picture Exchange Communication System cards). Tracy's trust and faith in God is amazing! She simply never gives up on Holden or on God.
Then there's Ella who seems to have it all. A pretty face, a sweet voice and a picture picture family. The way Karen Kingsbury made the contrast between Holden's and Ella's lives was interesting to me. Holden seems to have nothing but a mother who fiercely takes on his troubles and then Ella has a mother who gives her daughter all her troubles and never seems to be there when Ella needs her. The contrast between what is normal and what seems normal was quite intriguing to me.
This incredible story of a courageous mother who longs for her son to break free and a tenderhearted teenage girl who rallies for a friend will leave you in softly falling tears and a glad heart for people who look beyond the exterior and see the interior of the true person.
Reading Ella's story alongside of Holden's makes for a simply astounding, almost realistic life read. I cried for Tracy, and I so wanted Holden to "be normal." I felt the pain of Ella's family and when I quit reading I was thinking of these people again. Karen Kingsbury's writing simply "gets" into your life and it's hard to separate the fiction from real life.
Whether you know someone who is autistic or not this is simply the greatest read to understand how to help and understand people with a "special need." Karen Kingsbury writes an amazing story that should be a must read for all middle to high school aged kids!
This is grand-tastic story full of characters that are so well developed they could be your next door neighbor or your friendly neighborhood WalMart cashier with a fully developed plot worthy of 20 stars!
I will be looking up many more of Karen Kingsbury's books now that I have found this incredible author!
*I reviewed this book for Zondervan*