Peace is an interesting thing, until you realise you no longer have it, you do not miss it. Karen Kingsbury’s Unlocked was that first indicator, that my peace had deserted me… a few chapters in; I admitted to myself that I wanted that peace back.
I happened to come across Unlocked in a weird manner that unfortunately is not all too uncommon. I was at a friend’s house for what was supposed to be a business meeting that ended up being a chat about our dreams—a reflection on our shared pasts. We were merging perspectives, or rather, I was absorbing his and discarding assumptions that I had previously made about him.
I had planned to leave Ronjey’s as soon as this meet up was over, but as always is with friends; I lingered. And the lingering saw me dive into his growing book collection. I picked a book, then two. I planned on taking them home with me (there I go sounding like an RnB dude). I also expected Ronjey to put up a fight, because in this Nairobi, you are a terrible bibliophile if you do not pretend to put up a fight when friends want to leave with your books.
Ronjey looked at the pile of books I had taken off the shelf and then, instead of the classic bibliophile pretend-fuss, he took off in an entirely different direction and decided to guess titles he possessed that I would be into. He got it wrong for most part, but grossly so when he picked up Chimamanda who sadly is not my cup of tea, like I mentioned a while back. But to give him credit, he got one title correct.
I am one of those humans that ignore ancient proverbs and go on to judge books by their covers. Ronjey was at this point holding a copy of something, with blurbs (that I couldn’t read) facing me while he announced that he was sure I would read the book just because of the cover image, then he turned the book around and now I was facing a handsome dude, aged anything between 19 and 21 (which might make me a pedophile at 22) and even as handsome as he was, this dude had some confidence issues for he refused to look me in the eye. I wanted to know why that was the case and probably bring out my maternal qualities to try and fix him… I also wanted to know who the almost pretty teenager in middle aged woman’s clothes that stood behind him was. So I grabbed the book and added it to my pile and swiftly changed the topic to something inconsequential to avoid the terrible, ‘you cannot take my books with you’ conversation.
I made it home with three of Ronjey’s copies, and because I am shamelessly vain, Unlocked was the first one I started reading. A few pages in and I begun to doubt my decision.
I like to read everything in a book, from the ISBN through the contents page, and that was no different with Unlocked. However, two pages into the acknowledgements| dedications, I knew that this was no ordinary book. Most writers spare just a page of two for this part of their books, but not Karen Kingsbury, she dedicated about a page to each of her children and then another to her husband. So by the time I got through it all I was convinced she would be an overly verbose writer (like I am being right now) I wanted to put the book down and pick another; after all – I had brought three books from Ronjey’s and I have a fair amount of my own books that I am yet to read, but I decided to take a chance (as should you.) Interestingly enough Unlocked happens to be a book about just that; taking a chance before making a choice.
The plot revolves around Holden (that handsome dude on the cover) an autistic boy who is pushed around by others because he is special and his childhood friend who after noticing Holden’s love for music decides to take a chance on him and opens him up to the possibilities of his gift. But that is not the only chance this Karen Kingsbury’s ‘Unlocked’ is about. Unlocked made me angry, books written about underdogs tend to infuriate me. I was mad that he was bullied…even though I have been accused of being a bully two times too many. Then it made me ashamed; that I knew close to nothing on autism yet this was not the first time I had come across it (in literature) and would definitely not be the last. It was not a case of pity, at least not fully, I just kept thinking to myself that you cannot help if you are not informed…
‘Unlocked’ turned out to be christian literature, a genre that I have shied from as an adult. But I took a chance all the same and I don’t regret the decision, not that the book left me stronger spiritually, but seeing how prayerful all these guys were made me feel the need to just choose, to make a decision on my faith. I had issues with Karen’s depiction of God’s answers to prayers. They were worded out like just a normal conversation. My prayers are never like that, even when I pray (yes, I pray) and I feel like the prayers have been answered , these answers are more felt than worded. God does not speak to me so clearly, I can make out His words. I think Karen could have been a little realistic…or does God really answer prayers like that?
I have since returned ‘Unlocked’ to Ronjey, because I am a well mannered bibliophile. I wouldn’t go as far as standing on rooftops to sing its praise, but should you get bored of your most recent Grisham title, or finally accept that Tolstoy is not for you; ‘Unlocked’ is a pretty decent choice…and it just might make you cry.
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