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Author Guest Post: Beth Kephart

Beth Kephart


  • Undercover
  • Nothing But Ghosts
  • House of Dance
  • Dangerous Neighbors
  • The Heart is Not a Size
  • You Are My Only

Emmy Rane is married at nineteen, a mother by twenty. Trapped in a life with a husband she no longer loves, Baby is her only joy. Then one sunny day in September, Emmy takes a few fateful steps away from her baby and returns to find her missing. All that is left behind is a yellow sock.

Fourteen years later, Sophie, a homeschooled, reclusive teenage girl is forced to move frequently and abruptly from place to place, perpetually running from what her mother calls the "No Good." One afternoon, Sophie breaks the rules, ventures out, and meets Joey and his two aunts. It is this loving family that gives Sophie the courage to look into her past. What she discovers changes her world forever. . . .

The riveting stories of Emmy and Sophie—alternating narratives of loss, imprisonment, and freedom regained—escalate with breathless suspense toward an unforgettable climax.

When Emmy called I listened
by Beth Kephart

You Are My Only is a book told in two voices—that of a young teen named Sophie and that of a young mother whose name is Emmy Rane. Emmy Rane’s voice has been with me for a very long time. She was inspired, in part, by a moment, long ago, when I noticed a small child left untended by his mother. I have one of those apocalyptic imaginations (for better or worse, and most times, in real life, that would be worse—just ask my son), and instantly I was imagining things. The sudden stirring of a storm. The evil intentions of a neighbor. A big fat wasp with a ready sting. Somebody, I thought, please rescue that boy!

Well, of course everything worked out just fine for that child (I stayed at the window, ready to pounce at any sign of a tremble), but that dark place in me was still spinning. Emmy’s voice was within reach, and I wrote it down. She was familiar to me—her odd way of speaking, the torque of her language, her searing vulnerability and sadness. Below are the first Emmy words I ever wrote, and the fact is, in draft after draft after draft, I barely changed them.

The baby is missing. The baby is not where I had left her—checked the rope and strapped her in, pulled my weight into the branch above, and said out loud, This is good and nice and sturdy.

In every version of this book, I fiercely protected Emmy. True—she had left a child, an infant, to the blue sky and the green grass, but it was only for an instant. She had gone upstairs to find something sweet, and when she returned, her child was missing. I knew that Emmy Rane could not rest until her child was found—would you?—and that quest, that brutalized heart is what defines her journey.

I could write Emmy because I know the strength of a mother’s love. I know what I would do, and what I have done, for my own child. There’s no logic to it, maternal love. Not even language can hold it, and in fact, the language of maternal love is messy.

This post is part of the You Are My Only Treasure Hunt! Stop by Beth Kephart's Blog for more information about the Treasure Hunt and the AWESOME prizes that you can win! (The link goes to the introduction post, but Beth has also has other clues posted to help you with the Treasure Hunt!)

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Author Guest Post: Beth Kephart + guest blog