Susane Colasanti's latest contemporary novel deals with the issue of bullying with unwavering focus. Noelle is a sympathetic character—she's had more than her fair share of embarrassing experiences that have led to ostracism at school and her mother is self-centered and controlling, making everyday life extremely difficult. These issues alone are tough for any teen, but Noelle reacts to them with a strange mixture of mature, sensible thinking and a total lack of self-respect. She is confident in how the world should work, and how bullying ought to be addressed, and even how students should act, but she doesn't have the wherewithal to act upon these many noble thoughts, making her character seem a bit unrealistic. Noelle's best friend, sort-of boyfriend, and Julian so make up for this in the drama they bring to the story and the quirks that make the cast of characters enjoyable. Their issues meld together nicely with Noelle's and make the story flow quickly and evenly. A dose of perspective is brought into the novel when another student, also bullied and often overlooked by Noelle, commits suicide, but Colasanti glosses over details that might have made the story more heart-rending or affecting. Overall, Colasanti's personal voice comes through strongly in the narrative, and Keep Holding On is a loud rally against bullying. However, this message comes across at the expense of the story. Colasanti fans will enjoy this one, but this novel, despite its most excellent and important message, comes off as almost too preachy for teen readers.
Cover Comments: I always enjoy the couple-y-ness of Susane Colasanti's covers--they're just cute. I also really like the models' style here. Very nice!
This one will be available June 14th, 2012!