By: Susane Colasanti
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Source: ARC via tour
Release Date: May 31st, 2012 from Viking Juvenile/Penguin
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.
-Summary from Goodreads
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"Um, Juli," you might be thinking, "What the heck does a freakin' fish have to do with Keep Holding On?" That's a great question. And so allow my quasi-philosophical explanation to fathom for a second or five.
Our lives are blurry. They pass by us faster than we realize and slower than we desire. Things don't work out right; they turn upside-down; colors degrade to black; brightness fades to a dimmer white; what was once a promise is now a dread. Through it all we're still fighting to find a better life, and even if that means sacrificing certain values, most of the time we are willing to do it.
So why, then, is bullying such a problem? And suicide?
I have been bullied. My friend has been bullied. In fact, this generation's (and I believe what I'm saying is accurate, considering I am in this generation) idea of "bullying" and such is so drastically different from our parents' that if an adult saw some of the jokes we share, they'd probably be appalled. But that's just how evolution works, isn't it? To slowly progress and then stop and then progress and then backtrack and go on and on in this never-ending pattern, always dependent on something else?
Keep Holding On is like a giant stop sign screaming, "WAIT!' STOP! DON'T YOU SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING? DON'T YOU SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING?" Susane's words leap off the page in an array of promise and hope, desperation and authenticity. She's encapsulated a common teenage life into one of the shortest--yet fullest--books I've ever read. And the entire transformation of Noelle's character is so believable and complete that I am in awe of Susane's obvious understanding of both the topic and her talent.
This book incarcerated me. I'm out at dinner, eating hot pot with my parents, waiting for the food to arrive and reading this and BAM it's like everything I try to forget just drowns me again. I was addicted and terrified of Susane's words. They crippled and crushed and dared me to hope. They were so real I could barely stand it. Of course, my situation is not even close to how badly Noelle gets treated, but I can relate to her, and I even pronounce it almost impossible to not relate. There are some feelings that are too hard to ignore--too rare to be immune to--and one of those is sympathy. Sympathy and a eagerness to understand. (Though again, some people's qualities and actions continually surprise me--though they shouldn't. I should probably be used to them by now.)
Funny. I'm more like Simon--I don't give a darn what you think about me--I just live life because I don't think there's a point in wasting it on not-being-awesome. But we all have times when we just sink until we can't breathe, and Keep Holding On is it. It's beautifully heartbreaking and tragically sweet, subtly raging and fabulously daring. I'm in love with it and Noelle and Julian, and this book gives me so much strength--so unbelievably much--I'm still rocketing around on a I-CAN-DO-ANYTHING! high.
Life's weird. Life's stupid and gorgeous and obnoxious and endowing. Keep Holding On will guide you through the storms and find the rainbow. Maybe you'll even see a fish on your way there. A rainbow-spewing one, at that.