The Compulsive Reader: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Noelle absolutely hates high school. Not a day goes by without someone bullying or humiliating her. Her home life isn't any better: her mother checked out years ago, and it's a struggle to just scrape enough food together for a lunch let alone get the basic things she needs. So Noelle is shocked when Julian Porter shows an interest in her—he's definitely not the sort of guy to fall for a girl like her. But Noelle has been bullied enough—maybe it's finally time for her to realize not only the value of holding on, but standing up for herself.

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!


Unknown said...

It's sad to hear that this book is a bit preachy. While I don't mind "issue" books at all, I still want a thoroughly developed plot and characters, you know? I haven't read the author's other books, so maybe I'll start there.

Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

Oh, it sounds like it missed the mark in som aspects but I think I wanna read it anyway. thanks for the honest review :D

Anonymous said...

Oops! Sorry, that was me :P I was just in another account

Aneeqah said...

I haven't read anything by this author, so I'm not exactly sure if I would love this book. I was really excited for this book, but now I might not end up reading it, or maybe just getting it from the library. It seems like it could have been better than it was. Great review, it was really helpful!

-Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

Mary Preston said...

Bullying is such a problem, so I applaud the author for airing the subject.

The preachy remark kind of puts me off the book.

I'll put this is my maybe pile.

Melanie said...

I'm not too fond of preachy books.

I have to admit, when I first glanced at this cover, I thought the guy was wearing a skirt.

Kelley Lee said...

I've been wanting to read this one. I don't like that it seems the main character has a total lack of self respect. It is unfortunate, because this book sounded really good. I will most likely still read it, but I guess I am not in a hurry anymore.

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Thanks for the honest review!