Before You Take a Stand … You Got to Take a Chance. Holden Harris is an eighteen-year-old locked in a prison of autism. Despite his quiet ways and quirky behaviors, Holden is very happy and socially normal—on the inside, in a private world all his own. In reality, he is bullied at school by kids who only see that he is very different. Ella Reynolds is part of the ‘in’ crowd. A cheerleader and star of the high school drama production, her life seems perfect. When she catches Holden listening to her rehearse for the school play, she is drawn to him … the way he is drawn to the music. Then, Ella makes a dramatic discovery—she and Holden were best friends as children. Frustrated by the way Holden is bullied, and horrified at the indifference of her peers, Ella decides to take a stand against the most privileged and popular kids at school. Including her boyfriend, Jake. Ella believes miracles can happen in the unlikeliest places, and that just maybe an entire community might celebrate from the sidelines. But will Holden’s praying mother and the efforts of Ella and a cast of theater kids be enough to unlock the prison that contains Holden? This time, friendship, faith, and the power of a song must be strong enough to open the doors to the miracle Holden needs.
I really enjoyed this inspiring story. We gain an insight into Holden’s world and how his autism, which significantly limits his communication, impacts his family. It also highlights the lack of understanding of Holden’s peers when he is in a mainstream school environment. And offers a sad reflection of human nature when the kids who supposedly have everything feel the need to belittle and bully kids who are unable to defend themselves.
The author’s reader letter provides us with the background on the real life story of a young autistic boy who inspired this story. Ella is a courageous teen who isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right and be a voice for those less privileged than herself. I recommend this book to those looking for an encouraging story about how faith can lead to breakthroughs and healing in situations that seem dire and hopeless.