Thursday, June 14, 2012

Keep Holding On by Susanne Colasanti

For Noelle, high school is hell. She's had to put up with bullying from her classmates for years. Her teachers can't - or won't - do anything to help her. Her home life isn't any better. Her mom never buys groceries, takes the money that Noelle is saving for college, and has shut herself off from Noelle emotionally...unless the emotion is anger. Noelle has heard the message that she's worthless so many times that she fully believes it. When Julian seems interested in her, she can't believe it. Why would a great guy like him be interested in her? It will take a lot for Noelle to convince herself that she's worthy of attention, respect...and happiness.

(Spoilers below)

There were times in this book that Noelle just broke my heart. She way that she sabotages her own chances at happiness are so hard to see. Her sense of self worth is so warped because of the information she's been taking in about herself: her mother doesn't take care of her, her classmates think she's garbage, her 'boyfriend' doesn't want anyone to know that they hook up. The book struck a great note in terms of being realistic while still providing (spoiler alert) a story that ends on a positive note. I didn't think that it necessarily was going to end so positively; the countdown that runs throughout the book made me nervous that perhaps it was more than just a countdown to the end of school. But the end does take the idea of "it gets better" and reshapes it a bit into "it can start getting better now." I'm glad that the ending looks at more than just good friendships and a possible romance; it also focuses on Noelle starting to think about herself differently and going to therapy. The idea that going to college (or leaving high school) will make everything better doesn't always come true if you bring along your issues with you, so it made me very happy to see Noelle work on the damage that the bullying and neglect has caused. This book is topical but not sensationalized and fans of Deb Caletti and Sarah Dessen should definitely check it out.

See more information at Susane Colasanti's website.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Penguin Young Readers/Viking.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
The Taming by Eric Walters and Teresa Toten
Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

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