YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Archive for March 16, 2010

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: October 15th 2009
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star (4.5/5 stars)

Synopsis: An arresting story about starting over after a friend’s suicide, from a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction.
dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t.

Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself.

Review: To sum up my thoughts for this book, LOVED it. Hold Still started a little bit slow but I was soon sucked into the story and could not put it down. Even though the plot is not very unique, the book was still a terrific read. Caitlin was such an excellent protagonist. She is a character who is full of raw pain, angst, and guilt and her voice was powerful and authentic. Hold Still transports you into the mind of a teenager who wakes up one morning to an unfamiliar life that no longer makes sense. But finally manages to face reality and realize that the only way to move on is by letting go of the past.

The first few chapters of the novel are filled with emptiness, loneliness, guilt and regret. Reading those chapters broke my heart because I wanted so badly to hug Caitlin and tell her to move on. Ingrid’s dead, there’s nothing you can do about it. The novel gripped me from the beginning and stayed with my long after I read it. Through flashbacks and journal entries, we get to learn about Ingrid and Caitlin’s friendship as well as look into Ingrid’s innermost thoughts and helps us understand the kind of person Ingrid was. LaCour’s writing is complex and compelling. Absolutely wonderful.

Normally, I would say the romance moved too fast but in this case, LaCour did such a great job with Caitlin’s voice that I found the romance very believable and there was just the right amount of romance. I must confess, Taylor melted my heart. Here’s a scene that made me go “awww”.

[…] Taylor turns to face me again.
“Wanna work together?” he asks.
“Sure,” I whisper, and feel the blood pump in my ears.
He turns back.
Mr. James says, “When you’ve broken into pairs, let me know.”
Taylor’s hand shoots into the air.
“Me and Caitlin’ll work together,” he says, and then hunches over, suddenly fascinated by his quiz. I can feel the eyes of all the other students staring at us. My face feels hot.
But Mr. James, unaware that guys like Taylor are only supposed to want to work with the Alice McIntoshes of the school, just mumbles, “Taylor and Caitlin,” and writes our names down, together, on a sheet of paper.
(Page 82)

Frankly, the only major complaint I have was that the secondary characters were too cliché. But that doesn’t affect the story too much; Hold Still was still an amazing novel on heartbreak, loss and guilt. While the other characters were not quite as developed as I hoped they would be, I like how the interaction between Caitlin and Taylor changed from awkward and shy to something so sweet and beautiful.

If you are looking for a book to bring tears to your eyes, this one probably will. 🙂 Nina LaCour is the next Elizabeth Scott in my opinion. READ THIS BOOK, break open your piggy bank and buy it! Or steal your sister’s money if it’s what it takes to get you to buy this book. (I’m totally kidding about the last part.) Get it from the library if you can’t afford to buy it. (But one thing you should never ever do is to look for a illegal version of this book online. 😛 )

I received Hold Still from a trade so I am in no way endorsed for this review.