Title: Keep Holding On
Author: Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: 5.31.2012
Source: ARC from swap
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
I know Susanne Colasanti is a favorite YA author, but I had never read one of her novels until now. And now I need to read the others to see if they’re this good. Keep Holding On is a great story that not only gives a sweet love story, but also exposes the dark side of high school—bullying.
What attracted me to this novel first was the idea of bullying. It’s such a prevalent issue; the media is saturated with stories about kids bullying other kids and the ramifications of those acts, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping. This is one issue where there can never be too much awareness. Putting it into fictional form may help a teen down the road, so I applaud Colasanti for tackling this subject.
My heart broke for Noelle over and over throughout the book. While I was never the target of bullying in school, reading about it in this way was enlightening. I cannot believe how needlessly cruel people can be, and watching Noelle react and then grow into a stronger person from it was fantastic. Even Noelle’s mother was horrible to her. This poor girl could never seem to catch a break, except when it came to Julian.
I have mixed feelings about Julian. While I’m all for Noelle having a love interest, Julian just felt off to me. I never really got behind them as a couple. There was something about him I didn’t like. Aside from Noelle, Sherae is the character I adored. Sherae is the ultimate best friend, but she’s dealing with her own trauma and issues. I wish there had been a better resolution to what happened with Sherae.
As a whole, this is a great novel. My own minor issues aside don’t detract from the important message this book conveys: Bullying is wrong and needs to be stopped. Colasanti does a great job shoving this hot topic into the light and making it something everyone can relate to.