Title: Keep Holding On
Author: Susane Colasanti
Published: Viking Children’s, May 2012
Purchased: Downloaded my copy from iBookstore
A romantic and empowering book about bullying
Noelle’s life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn’t know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle’s kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she’s terrified. Surely it’s safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it’s time to stand up for herself–and for the love that keeps her holding on.
Noelle doesn’t have an easy life. Living in The Middle of Nowhere, she feels she has never belonged to any group, any place, anywhere. She has plenty of opinions and right from the start, you can tell she is an unhappy person.
I must say when I first read the book, I had a hard time connecting with Noelle. Her inner dialogue was filled with criticism, and because she kept stuffing her frustration inward, I couldn’t help but wonder if she might do something irrational that could harm herself. I also couldn’t quite see why she’d believe she wasn’t good enough to be with someone decent. It was sad to watch her wrestle with her argument as she kept insisting that she could only hang onto a boy with a bad reputation at school when her best friend repeatedly and patiently pointed out to her that she deserved someone better and more caring.
It took me more than half-way through the book and then re-reading some of the things in the first few chapters before I came to realize why Noelle couldn’t see herself as how others saw her. It’s a little uncomfortable for me to see her reality but once I recognize it, I start appreciating Noelle as an insightful, talented and caring person. She isn’t the easiest person to connect with but once you get her, you’ll value her sense of perception.
Noelle does not have an easy life. Many of the circumstances that she has to live with are harsh, grim and traumatic but instead of complaining endlessly, she chooses to save herself from drowning in helplessness, hopelessness and self-pity:
“We’re products of our choices. I can make a choice to do more than just survive. Which is why I’m going to start shaping my life into the one I want.” – from Noelle, Chapter 20 of Keep Holding On
Do I like the choices that Noelle make in the end? Yes.
Do I wish Noelle has an easier life? Yes!
Do I like Noelle even more because she is the way she is? YES!!
Keep Holding On is a story that sends out a positive message of self-empowerment. I’d say this is a book that is worthy of discussion and thought. I’m glad I read it and I’m sure I’ll be re-reading it in the future.
I’m keeping this in my re-read pile!