Book Review: Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury


Unlocked begins with the deep pains of a mother’s heart. Tracy has dealt with her son’s autism for fifteen years. Therapy, special needs education, exact afternoon routines—eighteen-year-old Holden is non communicative, living in his own private world.

Abandoned by her closest friends and with her husband gone from their lives, paying the bills with dangerous fishing jobs in Alaska, Tracy bears the weight and hurt through her faith. After years of little progress, prayer is often the only thing that gets Tracy through each day. Until Ella comes into Holden’s life—again.

Best friends at three years old, Holden still remembers his Ella. It’s not long, through old family photo albums, that Ella makes the connection. Because of her mother’s concern and discomfort with the vaguely understood condition of autism, Ella was separated from her friend. Life moved in a completely different direction for both families.

Sick of being part of the “in” crowd of jerks and bullies, Ella befriends Holden and becomes his advocate with the high school drama leader. Music seems to be the key to unlock Holden. Ella is determined to let him have the opportunity to at least listen to rehearsals of her starring role as Belle in the expected last performance for the Fulton High Drama program.

What happens in all the lives involved is nothing short of a miracle straight from God.


This first Karen Kingsbury book I’ve read, Unlocked exceeded my expectations. The pain and struggles felt by each character was so real and rich, I could hardly put the book down. The connections and relationships were complicated, yet realistic.

And Holden. Wow. To write from the viewpoint of an autistic teenager with a heart of gold. Amazing.

More than once this book had me near tears. I don’t cry over novels, but this had me setting it aside a few times just to catch my breath. Nothing overly dramatic or sensationalized, just the raw emotions of real life. And the real hope that in found in Christ Jesus.

Karen Kingsbury said in a recent interview that she doesn’t patch Jesus into her stories. She wants Him to always be an intricate part of every novel she writes. That holds true for Unlocked.

Do I recommend this book? Hey, I’m even getting my mom to read it, and she doesn’t read novels. Don’t miss this gem.

A great big thanks to Cindy at SurprisingTreasures.com! I won this copy of Unlocked on her blog. Her family has their own amazing story unfolding every day.

For Him, Sarah Elisabeth