Keep Holding On
Release date: May 31st, 2012
by Viking Juvenile
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.
Noelle had my sympathy from the very first page. She’s an immensely strong willed person to have kept herself together the way she did. She is intelligent and caring. She has a huge heart that has been trampled on, but she never gives up. I admire her will and I think a lot of people could learn from her. Her emotions are vivid. She made my heart break and gave my goosebumps by seeing her finally stand up for herself. Yes she makes some stupid decisions, yes it’s obvious to us how Matt is using her, yes her reaction to others being bullied is ironic. It may be hard to understand, but when you can avoid making your life even worse, you do so. We have to realize that this girl is stifled in a life of depression and shame, her irrational decisions are due to an unconscious defense mechanism.We’d like to think someone who gets bullied would help others in the same boat, but I call that wishful thinking.
The side characters, though some more than others, have a big a role in the story as well. From her best friend to the bullies, these were plucked out from real life with real problems of their own. I also found her mother very convincing. She’s a horrible parent figure, but unlike some other books I’ve read it didn’t feel exaggerated for the sake of the story. It felt like a realistic situation where the parent is just as lost as the child. It’s sad, but more often than we realize there are kids who raise themselves, do their own laundry, don’t get enough to eat, etc. It’s horrible. It really is.
Being a very short book it packs quite the punch; the story is packed full of emotional highs and lows. Like I said it’s not perfect, some things could been fleshed out – like her friendship with Sherae, her relationship with Julian, and the ending which I felt was a bit implausible or too good to be true. In real life things don’t usually turn around so quickly. Nonetheless, the story is touching. It could definitely help give some kids hope and I think this is what matters in the end.
Yes it’s true, things get better. What happens in school doesn’t matter when you’re older. If only this was easy to believe when you’re a teenager. I commend Susane for taking her experience and writing such an encouraging story. It takes courage, I know just by writing this that it IS embarrassing to admit you were bullied, but you know what? Don’t ever be ashamed! This is what defines who we become, and I would not change a thing about my life today!
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