Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Title: Keep Holding On
Author: Susane Colasanti
Series: Stand Alone
Published By: Viking Juvenile (May 31, 2012)
Source: ARC Provided by the Publisher
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Goodreads Description:
 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 Review:

From the Author

“When I was a teen, I would have been mortified to admit that I was being bullied at school. My junior high and high school years were the worst time of my life. Kids picked on me for being a science nerd. They picked on me for not wearing the expensive sweaters and jeans everyone else had. They picked on me for doing weird things like writing song lyrics on my sneakers (this was back in the day before writing on your sneakers was cool). I was embarrassed by all the ways I didn't fit in.

I am not embarrassed anymore.

Writing Keep Holding On was my way of turning a negative experience into something positive. I want this book to reach out to teens who are going through hard times. I want this book to help people feel less alone. And hopefully, this story will encourage readers in need to keep holding on.”

I don't normally add author notes to my reviews but this one was so profound and so moving that I just had to.

To know that this truly heartbreaking book that I just finished, was based on real life experiences? Well everyone should be aware of that before starting this book.

It will make it that much more real, and sad and haunting. It really will.

I am going to admit something here, I had it easy in high school. I didn't even realize it at the time but especially after reading this story, I see that I did. I really really did. I was never teased or bullied or anything remotely cruel happened to me. I liked high school. I had a great time there. Lot of good memories and times I will never forget.

And no, I wasn't one of the mean girls and I wasn't even a cheerleader, although a lot of them were my friends. And no, we weren't mean either. At least I don't remember any of my friends every being cruel to anyone. I know if they had been, I would have said something.

Maybe my high school life was different from others. I would like to say that bullying didn't happen and that everyone was sweet and nice, but I know that isn't true either. I am not that naïve. I know I saw and heard things and I know that because they weren't my friends or people I even knew that I didn't always stand up for them or say something to make them stop. That I walked by and said or did nothing because I was in a hurry or because I don't like confrontation.

I am saddened by that now.

After seeing what all the other students and even teachers ignored during this book, sickens me. Especially the adults. As adults that is their job to help protect the students. To make sure no one is hurt. As an adult now and a parent I would hope I would say and do something if I was ever put in a situation where I saw someone being bullied. It really makes me sad that there are adult out there that are willing to take that stand. That they aren't willing to help when help is needed.

But now this review is turning into a rant and I didn't mean for that to happen.

So back to the book, back to what you really want to know.

Did I love this book?


Did it make me sad and mad and even happy at time and frustrated at others and maybe just about every other emotion I can think of?

Sure did.

I love it when a writer can do that. When they can reach down into the very depths of your soul with their words and maybe even make you see and believe things you never thought you would. Make you see things in a whole other light.

And while my heart went out to Noelle and everyone else that was picked on or bullied throughout this story, a small part of me couldn't help but want them to fight back too. I was mad that they didn't stand up for themselves. That they didn't seek help and want things to get better enough to do something about it. I know that isn't a great feeling to have and yes, I know that isn't always the ideal thing to think can happen but yet...

Yet I couldn't help having that feeling that them just ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away wasn't the right thing for them to be doing either. That seldom every works in life.

So while I liked Noelle a part of me couldn't help feeling that she needed to help herself too. That she needed to fight back and say something. Do something. Either with her mom, her friends. I don't know.

I was upset that she didn't fight. That she didn't try to help herself in that way that only she could.

Does that even make sense?

Maybe it doesn't. Maybe I am being a little naïve and reading too many books about kick butt heroines who don't take any crap. I think I have come to expect it in stories now, even when I know real life doesn't always work that way. And doesn't work that way for many people that have a life like Noelle's.

Again, I think that is what made this book so frustrating for me and heartbreaking too. I felt like the whole time I was reading it, I was on the verge of tears.

I am so thankful this wasn't a terribly long story, I don't think I could have handled it if it were.

But then, right when I thought I couldn't take anymore, things to start to change. Ms. Scofiled. I love her. That is all I am going to say, because well, I don't want to give the whole story away but I will say, I love her and Julian, Simon, Sherae.

I love that things did get better. That Noelle turned into the person I wanted her to be. I wanted her to see that things could be better. I wanted her to see that sometimes even though it seems like evil wins, it doesn't have to. Good can prevail. Sometimes it just needs a little push in the right direction.

Once again Colasanti proves how wonderful a writer she really is and while she will always be a favorite. Why I will always pick up one of her books and know that inside there will be a great story. One that will more than likely move me and make me think. Make me laugh and make me cry too.

This is a book that I will make sure my daughters read when they are older. This is a book that could very well change someone's life.


  1. Bullying is such a sensitive subject, but one that makes for an important read. I will have to give this a try. Thank you for sharing the authors note. Great review.

  2. You are so right Steph! It can be a really sensitive topic. This was a great read and definitely worth it to try.

  3. Oh thanks for sharing your rant, Ali. I am glad that bullying is becoming such an issue these days, because it is so much worse with the internet and we as a society need to take a stand and make it known that bullying will not be tolerated. I too, had it relatively easy in high school. I was a smart kid and had that label but no one ever was cruel. Maybe things were a bit easier then? Who knows. I am definitely going to check this out, Thanks for bringing this to my attention!