Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Keep Holding On

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Keep Holding On
Susane Colasanti
Release date: May 31st, 2012
by Viking Juvenile

Goodreads / Purchase

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.

*A copy was provided by Penguin Canada for review purposes*
School was the most difficult time in my life. I didn’t have it as bad as Noelle. I have a great family who gave me everything I needed, but my school life was terrible. I was picked on and laughed at for being little. I had a hard time approaching people to make friends. I was even bullied by a teacher who made it a point to humiliate me. I was too young to realize this back then, but I will never forgive her. This all made me lash out and act in ways that made myself unapproachable. Being from a very small town like Noelle, this story hit incredibly close to home. It may not be a perfect book, but it still deserves every single star I can give for the simple fact that this sends a strong message that could help people live through what may be the hardest years of their lives.

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! 

5 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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50 Responses to “Review: Keep Holding On”

  1. The Teen Book Guru

    Oh my gosh Giselle, I think I actually might have teared up a little while reading your review. I’m in school right now, and it SUCKS. Like, seriously, I can’t wait to get out of here! People suck. -.- Especially teenagers (even though I AM one). I just don’t understand them!! Anyways… great review, and if I was excited about this one before, now I’m even MORE super duper looking forward to it!! Thanks so much for this Giselle!! <3 You totally made my day by letting me know that I'm never alone! :')

  2. Giselle

    @The Teen Book Guru: No you are definitely not alone and I’M sure there are tons more there with you who feel the same. But in a few years this won’t matter at all! I think you would really love this book!

  3. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    From the moment I saw that this book was about bullying, I had to read it. For me, primary. school was the most horrible period ever. I was bullied so much and it still affects me, even when I don’t really want to admit it.. People used to call me ugly, fat and all those nasty things you don’t want to hear when you grow up

    This sounds like a heartbreaking story, something everybody has to read at least one time. How horrible that even a teacher bullied you 😮 Wow.. You would think that a grown up was more mature then that.

    Bah, I still don’t get it why other people do such things to each other. It always breaks my heart when I hear a story about bullying.

  4. The Teen Book Guru

    @Giselle: Thanks so so much!! <3 ILY Giselle! You are like the older sister I don't have!! :') And even though sometimes it seems like the end of the world I know it'll be over and that in a few years it won't matter, but it's just so hard! Like, the whispers, and the rumors and everything… it's just so baffling why people would be SO mean and ruthless and insensitive. I think I'll love this one too!!

  5. Giselle

    @Mel: Thanks for sharing Mel. Kids are so cruel it’s sick. I’ll never get why people bully either and worse, why teachers ignore it. Because they do! Sometimes they bully, too! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did

    @The Teen Book Guru: Thanks, doll! You will never forget it, but you’ll learn from it and once high school is over, that’s when your real life starts (at least mine did). So hang in there, chicky! You rock the blogging world and we’ve got plenty of people here who love you! I know I do! 😀

  6. Amy

    Review twinsies today!! I think that is so horrible that you had to go through that, and it’s also brave of you to tell us about it. I was picked on a little for being small or having a flat chest, but nothing to the point of bullying. I always stood up for people being bullied. Your review is fantastic hon!!

  7. Ashley @ Book Labyrinth

    I still have to read this one, and I really want to even though I know it will be painful to read. High school wasn’t that bad for me… I was quiet and a bit lonely, but I had a group of friends… but elementary school? There were a few years that were really, really bad, and I don’t think those memories or feelings ever go away. Thinking about it I can still feel how I felt back then. Thankfully things do get better, but I think there are always those scars, and maybe books like this will help people realize that their actions have consequences and it really matters how they treat people.

  8. kimba88

    Awesome review Giselle and a topic all to many are familiar with. My youngest has experienced a lot of this and it has taken an emotional toll on her, in fact the teasing was so bad in her sophomore year that she began getting anxiety attacks and attempted suicide. Thanksfully, we changed schools, got help and this year she will be a senior and while everyday isn’t perfect, she is away from those kids.

  9. Giselle

    @Amy: Further proof we’re #soulmates! I wasn’t bullied physically, just with constant picking and laughing at me. It mostly stopped once I got in high school though since it was in a different town I met some friends. Thanks, love!

    @Ashley: I understand completely the feelings will never go away. If I think about it it still bothers me. But I’m glad that it’s true that things get better because Im happier now than I’ve ever been. I hope you are too! 🙂

    @Kimba: Wow that must be just as stressful as a parent to know your kid is going through that! I’m glad things are better now, hun!

    Thanks for dropping by, lovelies! It means the world! <3

  10. Suzanne @ Paranormal Book Fan

    Sorry to hear you had such a hard time in school Giselle, kids can be extremely cruel and as adults we see things completely different. I, thankfully, never found myself at the hands of bullies, but now with my own children growing up and one of them starting secondary school (High School to you) in September, I am so worried about him. Awesome review. And I don’t think its embarrassing to admit to being bullied, but I think it would be extremely embarrassing to admit to having been a bully.

  11. Natalia Belikov @ Dazzling Reads

    extraordinary review my dear! Im sad to hear that you had to go through so much shit during high school, but I am proud to have met someone like you who is not ashamed to say it. Bravo my dear!! excellent review! Im getting close to read this one soon =) I cant wait for it! you blew my mind with your review and experience!! ^.^ muah! Love you my dear! I would have given a kidney to be at the same school as you and have a friend like you who likes the same awesome books like me and shit! 🙂 muah!

  12. Melanie

    Wonderful review Giselle! I will definitely read this one. School can be really tough. I’ve been bullied a few times in high school but I can honestly say it does get better. This book sounds like it has a strong message. Even if it’s not the most perfect book, I think it needs to be read. Thanks for sharing!


  13. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I’m sorry you had a hard time in school, Giselle! I did too so I know exactly where you’re coming from and I think I can understand picking on others to move yourself from the spotlight, so I don’t think I’d be angry with Noelle for it. This totally interests me, it’s rare that an author gets this topic really right.
    Fantastic review, my dear. 🙂

  14. Danny

    Giselle, thank you so much for sharing some of your personal experience and I love when a blogger truly gives us a little of herself when reviewing a book! Clearly, this time in school shaped you and give your experience I’m even more excited now to pick up this book. I truly like when a story goes a little deeper and this one does! Thank you so much! *hugs*

  15. Giselle

    @Suzanne : I think it’s every parent’s fear. I know it will be mine when he goes to school.

    @Natalia: Awww I think we could have been BFFs! You rock my face Natalia!! <3

    @Maja: She didn’t pick on others at all, she just didn’t help another girl who was also being bullied and avoided being friends with her to not be picked on more. I see a lot of reviews who don’t like her bc of this but I think a lot of people will understand why.

    @Shane & Melanie: Thanks guys! I hope you both love this as much as I did! No it’s not perfect but it’s still a fantastic story!

    Thanks everyone! <3

  16. Giselle

    @Danny: Thanks Danny! It definitely shaped who I am! It may sound strange but I’m actually grateful for how it made my life turn out! I’m hoping you love this one too! It’s really an admirable story that could especially help people who are being bullied right now.

  17. Nick

    Giselle, I’m so sorry that school was a sucky experience for you. That teacher of yours was downright cruel !
    She should probably see what you look like now ! 🙂 You’re awesome and we love you ! <3
    Keep Holding On sounds like such an intense read. I have a feeling that I’ll tear up.
    Thank you for taking your courage and telling us your story. You’re wonderful !
    Thanks for the great review, Giselle.
    I’m definitely going to check it out soon! 🙂

  18. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    Wow, this book sounds INTENSE! I hate mean people. My daughter starts Kinder this August and I am dreading sending her because kids are so mean now! If I didn’t work I would totally home school her, haha. I’m glad you really liked this books caus some of the other reviews I read were a little hash on this book, your review makes me want to buy this book. Awesome review!

  19. Jaiden

    YAY! So glad to see this review! I just bought this book and was hoping for the best! I’m glad you liked it so much. I can’t wait to read it 🙂

  20. Sarah Elizabeth

    I’m not sure I’m strong enough to read this. I had a pretty tough time of it at school and I really don’t want to go back there! Hope this does help some teens who are being bullied right now though. Saying that it doesn’t make a difference doesn’t change how hard it is when it’s happening to you right now!
    Great review Giselle x

  21. Katie @ BlookGirl

    Love this review, Giselle. It makes my heart hurt to think of you being bullied as a child, but I am so glad to see that you have grown into a gorgeous, confident, fierce woman! <333

    I think books like these should be required reading for older children and teenagers. Bullying is a HUGE problem and I think books like these would help the people on both sides of the issue.

    I’ll be passing this book on to my niece for sure!

  22. ShreShre

    Giselle, I’m sooo glad you reviewed this book. Even gladder you gave it 5 hot espressos, cause I’ve had my eyes on this for a while now!!!! (Loving Susane Colasanti and all):D Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!


  23. Giselle

    @Sarah: Oh I didn’t mean it doesn’t make a difference. It does. Even now I’m sure I would be different if I wasn’t picked on. But it does get better and it’s very hard to understand that when it’s happening right now so I’m hoping this book gets noticed and helps these kids.

    @Nick: Thanks so much Nick! It’s very intense and emotional! Love your face!!

    @Nereyda: I dread the day I have to send my son to school too! I hope he has it easier. I’m gonna put him in sports so he can maybe become close friends with his teammates.

    @Katie: Thanks, love! It definitely helped make me confident now. And now I have all you wonderful bookish peeps I actually have things in common with 😉

    Thanks so much everyone!

  24. Camille Picott

    I think books on bullying are SO important! I hope lots of teens get to read this — sounds incredible. Maybe I’ll buy a copy and donate it to my husband’s classroom — he’s a junior high teacher. Thanks for the recommendation, and thanks for sharing your story! As an adult, sometimes I do marvel as I look back at some of the teachers in my life — how I put them on a pedestal, only to realize as an adult that the pedestal wasn’t necessarily earned.

  25. Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf

    Wow…this sounds like such a powerful book and one that definitely should be promoted as much as we can! I don’t know that I would read it as I fear it would bring back to many memories of a time in my life that I’d rather forget but for the young adults still in school and experiencing this….sounds like a must read.

  26. Nicola

    Gorgeous review, Giselle! I do wish I could go back and re-live some situations knowing what I know now. Oh well, we have to learn somehow, eh?

    I’ll definitely be reading this!!

  27. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I can’t wait for this one. I hated high school, it was terrible, I wouldn’t go back for a million bucks. I like stories like this because I find I can totally relate and it’s awesome to see a strong protagonist dealing with everything. Great review! I will be getting this for sure.

  28. Julie

    Your review’s amazing. I’m so sorry that your school life wasn’t very good. I hate teenagers and can’t wait to get to the point in my life where I can look back at this time without being so upset. I’m so glad you’re happy now. 😀 I can’t wait for this book!

  29. Vegan YA Nerds

    I haven’t read any books by Susane but now I really want to read this and I’m happy to see it get such a high rating from you, Giselle! I love high school stories and Noelle sounds like a character I want to get to know!

  30. Fiktshun

    Oh yay, you posted your review! I have got to move this one up on the pile. I love stories that “pack a punch” and filled with “emotional highs and lows.”

    Awesome review, thanks so much for sharing – and I love the personal advice at the end. I think I’m going to have to try to sneak this one in next week!

  31. Rachel @ Unforgettable Books

    One of the most amazing reviews ever!!!!!!!!!!! I absolutely love how you related your high school experience. I am living high school right now so I feel all the highs and lows of the experience. the times when everything is perfect when I am with my friends and the times i am ignored in the the classroom.
    I’m sorry you had a hard high school career. (school is full of so much work) Good job surviving a bad teacher! I never been bullied but i know it must be hard.
    I love Suzanne’s debut, when it happens, it was the first contemporary book i ever throughly enjoyed. I definitely want to add this to my Suzanne collection, it sound terrific, realistic and moving!
    Again- Incredible review!!!!! 😉

  32. Rachel

    I said this on GR but I just wanted to say it here too. Thanks for your amazing and personal review. This sounds like a wonderful book. I’m so sorry you had to go through what you did in school! It breaks my heart!

  33. Annabelle Marie Veronica

    I’ve heard about this. I normally don’t really read realistic fiction, but if it looks interesting I will, and I think I’m going to read this one. I feel like I would be able to relate to Noelle just like you did. My English teacher this year, like your teacher, goes out of her way to make me feel like an idiot too. And while I have an awesome, loyal group of friends outside of school, I don’t have very many friends in school (as in, like, one), and that’s tough. Your review is so open and touching and I love it! You’ve touched on everything and I’m glad to hear that the characters are awesome. Amazing review!

  34. Giselle

    Thanks SO much for the wonderful comments, guys!!

    @Camille: I know when we’re young we don’t realize what the teachers are doing until we’re older. Which is why most aren’t reported for bullying themselves!

    @Annabelle: I think you could absolutely relate to her and it may help you see above it all. Sorry you’re going through this! Teachers should really know better or not teach. It’s appalling really. Hang in there! You’ll move on and have a fabulous life and your teacher will remain in his miserable one. 😉

    @Jenni: Me either I would NEVER go back. And I didn’t even consider going to the reunion which is this year. *barf*

    @Rachel @ Unforgettable Books: Thanks, love! I want to check out her other books this was the first by Susane that I read but it won’t be my last! 😉

  35. Candace

    Books with bullying pack such a punch for me. I didn’t experience bullying in school, but in other places I did. But when I read about it I get so ANGRY!
    I haven’t read any of her books yet but I have a couple and I’ll have to make sure I read this in the future. Glad you liked it so much!

  36. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    Great review! Bullying is so sad and I hate reading about some of the awful things kids do. School was really hard but I feel like an old person cause now that I’m out I still sometimes want to go back. I think part of it is that now I have learned and would be able to stand up for myself more. I wish I knew everything I know now then. Sounds like a good quick read with a great message.

  37. Rachelia (Bookish Comforts)

    I’m so sorry to hear you went through a rough time in school Giselle. I think sharing that personal experience in your review made it much more special and you could really see how well you connected to Keep Holding On. It really does sound like a great book – I can’t wait to read it!

  38. Maji Bookshelf

    I am actually reading this book right now, and I agree with you as well! It feels so realistic and not exaggerated, and its such a great book for teenagers out there to read! Lovely review!

    Farah @MajiBookshelf