This is another fine Karen Kingsbury novel. I should preface this by saying that I loved Karen Kingsbury’s novels over 10 years ago and wanted to read nothing else. I even have a picture with her that I got during an author appearance at a local bookstore. However, I got to the point that every book I was reading made me sob without consolation in at least one part and I didn’t want to put myself through that. Karen definitely knows how to pull the emotional strings. Then a few years back I thought I’d try one from the early Baxter series and found them too sickeningly sweet. If the characters were any more perfect I thought I would get sick. That was that, I thought. However, in refreshing my web site I’ve been looking for great fiction to read and review again and my husband pointed out that Karen Kingsbury’s book Unlocked was on the number 1 best sellers list so I thought I’d try again.
I can certainly say I am glad I made that choice to give Karen Kingsbury another try. Don’t get me wrong – it still pulls at the heart strings and my eyes overflowed, but not terribly so. The sweetness was there, but not as syrupy as I remember. The booked seemed more in touch with reality – except for the last scene at the performance – but I won’t mention why as to not spoil the ending.
As I have noticed with a couple of Christian authors, they seem to be carefully watching the trends of society and including one or more references, or even whole themes, in their novels. One assumes they do this to reach a greater audience. After walking past the book shelves in Wal-Mart, I saw a proliferation of vampire novels likely due to the desire to capitalize from the popularity of the Twilight series. Karen, or her publicity team is not ignorant of this and include a “name drop” which irks me just a bit. An author who is so popular has much power in the words that he or she writes and a mentioning of any names has an ability to influence. She should get some royalty commission from TDC. I refuse to fall into the same trap as a writer, albeit fledgingly, so I won’t mention the name myself. lol
Unlocked has several different major issues within it that are dealt with in a somewhat fairer than most manner. I am not a fan of authors touching on an issue and not doing it justice, but I think that Karen Kingsbury did a relatively stand up job with them. Some of the issues were broken friendships, failing marriages, plastic surgery, bullying, teen suicide and last but not least, autism. It is an ambitious list. It seems that it would appeal to young and old alike. Suicide is something that always grabs my emotions as I had a cousin choose to end his own life. It is a difficult thing to write about as there is so much blame, guilt and accusations on the part of those who are left. The description of the character’s suicide was so different than others I have read and I cannot decide if it was depicted as awful, horrible or awful, peaceful. Or maybe one of those is simply my response to it. Suicide leaves a very thin line to tread as an author, often done, but not always well. I think Karen does it well in this novel.
This novel is currently a stand-a-lone novel in that it is not part of a series. This is one novel I would like to see a sequel to as I came to enjoy and relate to the characters so much. I would like to know if there is ever a real turn around in some of the characters such as Blake and his buddies. Does Ella ever find love? Do the two families ever become close again? What is the story behind little Katie? These are just a few of the questions I would love to see answered in a sequel to Unlocked.
So, yes, I can see what all the hubbub is about. It’s not just because it is a new Karen Kingsbury must read, but because it is a really great story that brings attention to some very popular, but real, issues people live through such as suicide and autism. I think my viewers will definitely want to grab a copy of Unlocked and soon.
Tracy’s Pick of the Best Reviews:
Karen Kingsbury Speaks about Unlocked