Title: Keep Holding On
Author: Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: May 31st 2012
My rating: 4 stars
Keep holding on tells the story of Noelle; who's had a tough life. Once she had the stable family lifestyle; a big house in a nice neighbourhood, she could invite her friends over when she wanted, a mother and a boyfriend who loved her, friends who wanted to know her and her mother was happy. But suddenly things spiralled out of control, due to unexpected circumstances, her and her mother were forced into a dingy apartment with hardly any money, and just had to live off what they could scrape by. The once respected and approachable mother now no-one wants to know, so she retreated into her inner shell, leaving Noelle to do everything for herself. This is when the bullying starts, having to fend for herself; doing the laundry, and barely having anything to eat, her former friends turn their back on her and the endless teasing and mocking begins.
Keeping Holing On was such a heart breaking read, the second half of the book actually took me longer to finish off compared to the first half because of the amount of times I had to stop to wipe away my tears streaming down my face, so I could read properly and then to constantly clear my kindle with all the tears dripping off on to it. If I were in Noelle’s shoes I know for sure I would not have been able to stick it out, day in day out she turned up to school, and tried to hold the facade that her bullies weren’t getting to her. And then go home and deal with the crap from her mother; her constant ranting of being a single mother, having to provide for her and Noelle, so they could have a roof over her head, she made me so mad, I’ve come across some abysmal mothers in YA reads recently but Noelle’s mother quickly made her way to the top of my list. She was so wrapped up in her own little self-centred world, that not once did she realise what was going on in front of her. You could say that the biggest trigger of Noelle being bullied was because of her mother’s lack of love, support and her attitude. She wouldn’t let her have her showers in the morning because it would wake her up and she could only get up at a certain time, (thus came the nick-name rotten egg) she wouldn’t drop her off to school if she was late (so she would turn up in a flustered, dishevelled state). Which mother could do that? At times she was so heartless, that I personally felt she had no right to call herself Noelle’s mother in the first place.
Sherae; Noelle’s friend was such a strong pillar of support. I truly admired her character, she had her own problems to deal with, but she was always there for Noelle, encouraging her to stand up for herself, comforting her when it all got too much and her small unexpected gestures truly sneaked their way into my heart. Everyone needs a best friend like Sherae.
Once I read the blurb, you’re given a hint into a major event that happens in the book, but even though you know about it, nothing can actually prepare you for it when it actually happens. I just can’t bring to words just how much I was affected by it, or the entire book for that matter. This book keeps you constantly questioning yourself afterwards with endless what ifs, what if I’d done something different that day or actually listened to her for once. But the what ifs can never bring a person back once they’ve gone, or the endless hurt created over time.
Keep Holding On was a poignant heart wrenching read that brings to the surface how bullying is still a major issue today; it can truly affect individuals so much that they see only one possible way out. But with the right support and encouragement in place you can bring a stop to the hateful bullying. I think Colasanti did a fantastic job with Keep Holding On, she didn’t end everything with a pretty little bow, but with a reasonable ending. You should have seen my kindle by the time I finished this book, literally half of it was highlighted with beautiful achy quotes. Despite the sensitive subject matter, I plunged into Colasanti’s book and formed such a close relationship with Noelle, her words kept me mesmerised until the early hours of the morning until I finally went to sleep with big puffy eyes.
I truly recommend that you read Keep Holding On. It’s a breath taking moving book, that will keep you thinking about it for days afterwards.
A big thank you to NetGalley and Penguin group for giving me this amazing opportunity to read this one of a kind book.
I’ll end this review by leaving you with some of Colasanti’s reasons behind writing this book (taken from Susane Colasanti’s Keep Holding On twitter chat).
“It felt good to write about the things that made me so sad 20 years ago in Keep Holding On. And happy that the book could help others now”
“Writing the scenes in Keep Holding on that were inspired by my actual experiences was my way of turning negative into positive”
“My favourite thing about writing is the opportunity to reach out to teens and hopefully make them feel less alone”
“Inspiration comes from everywhere. My own experiences with being bullied inspired me into write Keep Holding On. Some actual stuff is included”.