08 June 2012

Book Review: Keep Holding On

Book Details
Author: Susane Colasanti
File Size: 367 KB
Publisher: Viking's Children (May 31, 2012)

·       Summary
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.

Review: 5/5

5. Just when you think they’ve given up on you, they prove that they never will.
4. They find a way to speak up after staying silent for so long.
3. They defend you when you least expect it.
2. By showing you how life can get better now.
1. By helping you find a place to belong.

I so love Keep Holding On- and it is not just because of the cover which totally caught my attention when I first saw it in Goodreads.

Four Reasons Why I Love This Book:
1) The Length 
Talk about KISS - Susane Colasanti kept it short and simple. Everything is straight to the point and there was no beating around the bush. The heavy subjects such as bullying, neglect and sexual abuse are presented concisely. I am glad that although this is a short read, all subjects were given closure and a resolution - reminds me of Jennifer Echol's Going Too Far

2.) The Characters
Noelle. I love how her character developed each day. How she finally earned her courage may be a little tragic. She was afraid, I know. She's a teenager and just want to live life each day at a time, trying to survive high school. I do not blame her for not reaching out, although it would be ideal that she would have. However, for someone who is totally afraid and constantly bullied, being invisible is one of the best option that one can think of while trying to gain the strength to fight back. Lastly, I like how she stood up to everyone at the end of the novel and having a fresh start not only with friends but with her mother as well.

Julian. Well, at first I hated Julian because he seemed to be passive. I mean, if he liked Noelle he would do something for the bullies to stop what they're doing to her. He wasn't the savior/hero that I was looking for (compare to Henry, from Heart on a Chain or Evan, from the Breathing Series). But, part of it may be Noelle's fault as well. She kept on pushing Julian out of her life and settle for something less than she deserved. On the other hand, I love the way how everything works out at the end: Julian having showed his hero-side &  Noelle finally had the courage to confess that she likes him as well.

Simon. He reminds me of sunshine, of someone who is not afraid to be himself despite what other people may think or say. I think he's one of the people who really saved Noelle without making her noticed it (since she really doesn't trust anyone besides Sherae). He gave Noelle the break she deserves in writing: not only saving her from the hell during cafeteria lunches but it also allowed her to grow and share whatever talent she has with the rest of the school.

Sherae. The best friend - who had been through a lot as well. The friendship she had with Noelle is pretty amazing. I was glad that they had each other to fall to when things got out of hand. Although she doesn't really know what is really happening to her friend, their friendship made it bearable for Noelle to go to school everyday. She's the kind of friend who doesn't need the words - she knows how to anticipate the needs - which is really helpful especially when you're friend's lip is sealed. She was also afraid - but at the end, she finally took the courage to face it and asked for help.

3.) The Plot
Bullying is a serious offense. I have read a lot of novels about it, and it always leave me in an emotional turmoil. But, Susane Colasanti's Keep Holding On, set the tone that will still convey the message but manage to place it in a somewhat lighter tone. 

It also touches neglect, the fact that a child, at whatever point in his/her life still needs a parent to take care of him/her - not just with their basic needs but for emotional support as well.

Lastly, it also tackled about rape within a relationship. Okay, so both of you may be in love with each other - but when one of you doesn't give a consent to be intimate - that's another story. Sex should always be between two consenting people - regardless of the status of their relationship.

4.) The Ending
The advocacy to stop bullying as well as neglect is as loud as the fire engine's siren by the end of the novel. It was an amazing way to end the story, calling on to people (young or old) who have been victim - trying to tell them to be strong, that this will all pass, just keep holding on. It was a boost to the victim as well as wake up calls to people who are standing there like sentinels watching the injustice happening in front of them.

what’s in front of you
is not necessarily
the entire story

Will I Recommend this Book?
Definitely! For friends who wants a short, light but meaningful and insightful read, I would gladly recommend this book!

Last words...
Bullies or Abuse-themed books always made my stomach churn and turn my intestines into knots. But Keep Holding On made it possible for me to finish reading without feeling completely dreadful.

If it's possible...
I want to read Sherae and Simon's love story too - they both deserve their happy endings :)

Favorite Quotes 
“When your heart is shattered into a million pieces, all you can do is try to keep holding on. You breathe. You try to fall asleep. You try to not think about him.”

“When I’m a teacher, I won’t be using red pens to grade papers. Red pens will forever be associated with criticism and bad grades in my mind. I don’t want this person to get their short story back with harsh red pen marks all over it. Purple is much friendlier.” 

“I wish emotional bruises healed like physical ones.”

“If I’d stopped believing that my life would eventually get better, I don’t think I would have survived high school.” 

“Love is never guaranteed. Love is a risk we take because we hope it will make us happy.” 

“Happiness is not limited. There’s enough for everyone.”

“School would be way more tolerable if everyone wasn’t so afraid to be who they really are. And if everyone else would let them.” 

“You can’t violate someone’s trust and expect there to be no consequences.” 

“We’re products of our choices.” 

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