Release Date: 6/14/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com:
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.
My thoughts on the book:
This is a difficult review for me to write because I feel strongly about bullying in schools. I feel that there is no excuse for it and it needs to be stopped. It's one of the most disgusting things one human can do to another, in my humble opinion. I also feel that it is important to talk about the bullying problems in schools and open up a dialogue in order to solve the problem, and Colasanti is attempting to do just that. For that reason and that reason alone, I am giving this book a higher rating than I would have otherwise. I did not like the narrator/main character, Noelle, and Colasanti did a lot of telling instead of showing. Furthermore, there are many inconsistencies between the picture that Colasanti is trying to paint and what seems to be the reality of the situation.
Noelle is bullied because she is supposedly extremely poor. However, I've seen people who were extremely poor, and they aren't too proud to take a free lunch because that's the only meal they'll be getting that day. They would not turn down a free meal that they are qualified for because it would embarrass them to eat it. They are more focused on survival than what other people think. On the weekends, these people are unable to eat anything again until they get to school to get their free lunches. THAT is the poverty that Colasanti seemed to be hinting at, but Noelle's actions and words were in stark contrast with that. Noelle wasn't as bad off as she thought she was, in my opinion. At least not with the money issue. She was poor, yes, but she was not impoverished. There is a difference.
Also, Noelle makes fun of a teacher for wearing the same pair of pants twice and on a schedule, however she's supposedly so poor that she doesn't have enough clothes to wear either. Hypocritical much? Then when she sees others get bullied, she turns the other cheek, yet she complains with others do the same to her. Seriously, do unto others and all that, Noelle. Look into it.
My biggest pet peeve about this whole novel was the fact that Colasanti doesn't show us anything. I couldn't relate to Noelle, and this was a first person narration. I did not feel what she was feeling. Furthermore, I couldn't "see" what was going on. Noelle just told the reader what she wanted them to know. Considering how I feel about Noelle's character, I obviously didn't trust what she told me very much. Needless to say, if Colasanti had shown instead of told and Noelle had been a likable character, I would have enjoyed this book much more.
Regardless of my irritations with this novel, the message in Keep Holding On is extremely important. It lets people know how people who are bullied feel. I doubt bullies are the most empathetic people in the world, but I think that addressing a problem and opening up a dialogue about it are the first two steps in solving it, and at least Colasanti did that. If nothing else, this novel should be read simply for the anti-bullying message that it portrays. Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is strongly opposed to bullying, but I would suggest checking it out from the library before buying it.
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