Title: One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Rating: 4 Stars
I have read Going Over by Beth Kephart in the past and really enjoyed it so I finally decided to pick up One Thing Stolen but I wasn’t overly impressed with the opening section of the novel. We are introduced to Nadia who is spending time in Florence with her family but she has recently a need to steal things which she is desperately trying to keep hidden. Until one day she witnesses a young boy stealing some important items for a church and decides to chase him but she is the only person who saw the boy and believes that she is going crazy for a moment. Nadia seems to have been close to her father in the past but that bond seems really strained right now because of the secrets she is keeping from him. While I did appreciate what Kephart was trying to do with her writing style it seemed very disjointed to me and made the reading experience a little off-putting but I am going to continue for now just to see where it goes.
As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, Nadia is struggling to cope with the way she is right now which is becoming a major concern for her family especially since they are in a foreign country. Nadia’s stealing is becoming an issue but she is determined to keep it hidden since the people around her aren’t going to understand why she does it when she doesn’t even know herself. She does steal anything of value or anything important but rather she is like a magpie stealing things that catch her attention. Nadia also has issues speaking, we don’t know why this is at the moment but she speaks very little and when she does she has to speak very slowly in order to actually communicate. Nadia spends a lot of time thinking about her friend Maggie and how she doesn’t have trouble communicating with her at all or maybe it is because something happened to Nadia that caused this change in her but her parents are extremely concerned but they don’t know what to do with her right now. I did sympathise a lot with Nadia since it isn’t that she doesn’t want to express herself as she does but she can’t which is making things interesting as sooner or later Nadia’s stealing is going to come to light.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, Nadia is continuing this cycle but she is seeing the boy more often, disappearing into the city in order to chase him down which worries the people around her. When she finally catches up to him one time after sneaking out to find him she learns his named is Benedetto and he does appear to be completely real and not something she has conjured from her imagination and like with her friend Maggie she finds it easier to talk to him since he seems to understand on a more fundamental level. However, when she returns home Jack informs her that her parents have been out looking for her for hours because she disappeared without telling anyone where she was going which leads to a lecture from them and her mother is now beginning to talk about Nadia seeing a doctor in order to help with her speech and the other things they suspect are going on. Nadia is a very interesting protagonist to be following but I was waiting for something more exited to happen like Going Over.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, Nadia’s condition is getting worse as she has even begun stealing from Jack’s girlfriend and while she wants to confess to what she has been doing she can’t. Her father ends up contacting an old friend, Katherine who is neurologist to speak with Nadia and see if they can find out what is wrong with her and if there is anything they can do about it. When Nadia meets Katherine for the first time, Katherine seems to be able to understand a lot of Nadia without her needing to voice them which might be because of her profession and they start working slowly on getting Nadia back to who she was. However, she is concerned that the bookmaker she has been stealing from for a while has contacted the police and they might come looking for her. She also sees Benedetto a few more times where they establish a relationship but it is still uncertain as to whether he is real or a figment of her imagination.
As we cross into the second half of the novel, Nadia begins making some progress with Katherine in being able to express what she is currently going through but the only thing holding her back now is finding out whether Benedetto is actually real or whether she has made him up. Seeing Nadia and Katherine’s friendship developing while Katherine is trying to help her recover from what she is going through was so wholesome but we still haven’t got any real answers about what Nadia is going through and why. I would have liked to have gotten to this point in the book sooner as I felt the majority of the first half wasn’t really needed and I do want some concrete answers about what Nadia’s condition is and why it manifested now when she doesn’t seem to have gone through anything overly traumatic although that might not have been revealed yet. So far, I am liking it less than Going Over but I still have hope that the ending might pull something amazing off.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, we learn that Nadia has a condition that is shrinking the language centre of her brain while increasing the size of the part of the brain that deals with creativity but with their combined knowledge of the mind and how it can restructure itself they hope to bring Nadia back. Her parents end up contacting her best friend Maggie and bringing her to Florence in the hopes of getting Nadia to communicate and everyone is determined to do their best for Nadia. While this portion of the book is written from Maggie’s perspective if I’m not mistaken so we aren’t hearing directly from her but witnessing what is going on around Nadia. It is Maggie who finds Benedetto’s name in a journal and sets out on a mission to find this boy since he might have a good chance of bringing Nadia back to herself.
As we cross into the final section of the novel, Nadia’s family and Maggie are working so hard to help Nadia but she wants Benedetto since he was the only one who understood her when no one else did. Maggie sets to work trying to find him even though the odds are against her but she eventually pulls through as Benedetto comes for Nadia the night she is supposed to leave for America to take part in a clinical trial for people with her disorder. Overall, I felt that Kephart could have done a lot more with this disorder and the relationship between Nadia and Benedetto. While it fell a little flat for me, it will appeal to others and I still highly recommended Going Over.
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