by Susane Colisanti
Published by Viking Juvenile
on May 31, 2012
Source: received e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure here.
My summary: Noelle is counting down the days until the end of high school. She's not doing the countdown because she can't wait to put on a cap and gown, or pack up for college. It's because she can't stand another day at school, can't bear another week of living with her emotionally unstable, neglectful mother. Noelle struggles with being bullied, with her feelings for a boy who only wants to hook up with her in private, and with her confidence. Can she keep holding on?
My take: Noelle has a lot of awful stuff to face. Her mom barely bothers to keep food in the house, a guy at school says he likes her but won't acknowledge their relationship in public, and she's relentlessly bullied by two classmates.
There are bright sides to Noelle's life, though: a caring physics teacher, a best friend who seems to understand what she's going through, and a new guy she'd love to go out with if she weren't so certain that he'd reject her if he knew the truth about what her life was really like.
While the bullying Noelle suffers is terrible, I found Noelle's neglectful mother even more disturbing. Noelle is lucky that some adults in her life do eventually stand up for her, which doesn't always happen in such situations.
After reading blurbs of Keep Holding On, I was expecting an issue book about bullying. Now that I've read the book, I'd say that's not exactly accurate. Keep Holding On is more a book that advocates having the courage to be yourself, to change the things about your life that are in your power to change, and to tough it out through bad times.
Other YA books like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson or Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers definitely pack a stronger emotional punch in their portrayal of the life of high school outcasts. Keep Holding On seems to take more of an inspirational approach, reminding teens that while high school might sometimes seem like endless torture, there's a whole wide world waiting on the other side.
Other books you might enjoy -- click on the covers to get to the Goodreads page:
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher