Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Review: Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0525421556
ISBN-13: 978-0525421559
Source: Bought at Borders
Cover: The cover of this novel intrigued me. I loved how lost the model looked, with most of her color muted out. I was also drawn in by the size of this novel. Holding it, it's much taller than most books and gave the appearance of a journal which worked really well with the storyline. Overall, for me this cover is appealing.
First Sentence: "I watch drops of water fall from the ends of my hair."

The Mini- Review: Hold Still will have you holding your breath, rooting for Caitlin to find her way through the suicide of her best friend and learn to live again-- day after day.

Book Summary:

Dear Caitlin, there are so many things i want so badly to tell you but i just can't.
That night Ingrid told Caitlin, I'll go wherever you go. But by dawn Ingrid, and her promise, were gone, and Caitlin was alone. Ingrid's suicide immobilizes Caitlin, leaving her unsure of her place in a new life she barely recognizes. A life without the art, the laughter, the music, the joy that she shared with her best friend.
But Ingrid left something behind. Devastating  and hopeful, playful and hopeless. In words and drawings, Ingrid documented a painful farewell in her journal-- just for Caitlin. Journeying through Ingrid's final days, Caitlin fights back through unspeakable loss to find renewed hope.

The Review:

It's not difficult to fall in love with this book. All you have to do is open it and let the pictures and words swallow you. LaCour does a masterful job dealing with the tough topic of suicide and how it affects those closest to the deceased. Through Caitlin journey, we see how difficult it is to pick up the shattered piece of life after and fit them back together into something new. I loved taking this journey with her and I'm pretty sure most other readers will too.

The first page, sketches by Mia Nolting
Again, I find myself opening a book that the publishers really took time to make beautiful. Hold Still is filled with drawings from Ingrid's journal drawn by Mia Nolting who is just as essential to Ingrid's character as LaCour's words were. I wanted to share with you a few of these so they will be peppered throughout the review.

Caitlin is an interesting main character. When the book begins, Caitlin is so emotionally devastated by Ingrid's suicide, her tears literally pour off the page. But what's most fascinating about this is I got the picture through later passages that Caitlin isn't too emotionally intense before the suicide. She seems reluctant to show much emotion at all. She cares about Ingrid, that's obvious, but *SPOILER ALERT* she doesn't know how to show how much she cares and usually ended up ditching Ingrid when she became sad. It's interesting to see how much Caitlin has to work through these feelings of guilt. *END OF SPOILER* I was really rooting for Caitlin to become better. I could see the beginnings of her personality starting to slide back into the novel and i wanted to get to know her better. The thing I liked most about her was her actions and reactions to things didn't seem out of character. There were never times were I felt like she was being too emotional and irrational so I never lost respect for her.

Dedication page with illustrations by Mia Nolting
I also loved the cast of secondary characters. Dylan, the new girl with a reputation for getting kicked out of her school for making out with another girl in the bathroom, was a great counterpart to Caitlin because she knew how to live and it turned out they had more in common than Caitlin first realized. I LOVED Taylor. I'm not usually really into guys in books but he'd definitely make my top 10 literary boyfriends. He was hilariously awkward at the right times, had a great sense of humor and I could tell from the start that he'd be the right one to help lead Caitlin away from her pain and on the road to recovering. He was seriously great. I was also unpressed by the thought put into the relationship between Caitlin and her photographer teacher Ms. Delani. I won't reveal too much but it was fascinating to see how Ingrid's death effected Ms. Delani and thus Caitlin's relationship with her. I also liked Jayson and Maddy.

One of "Ingrid's" drawings by Mia Nolting
I wasn't sure how the journal entries were going to work and if I was going to enjoy them. Sometimes, I find that journals from other characters seem to be too matchy matchy with what is going on in the MC's life. That is to say, the journal always has the "right" advice right before or after the character needs it. But Ingrid's journal didn't do this. It served solely as a way for the reader to get to know the person Caitlin was missing so badly and it also helped Caitlin learn things about Ingrid that she never realized. I missed Ingrid when I read her entries addressed to "pink peeling paint" and "Hall Monitor". The illustrations also helped me to get inside the mind of Ingrid. Both Caitlin and Ingrid were incredibly artistic and visual so the illustration helped to showcase this element that brought them together.

Another really great thing about this novel were the metaphors. The novel simultaneously uses Caitlin building a tree house and the theater where Caitlin and Ingrid liked hanging out the most being torn down as representations for Caitlin rebuilding her own life. The theater represents how Caitlin's life was with Ingrid and by the time the theater is torn down at the end, Caitlin is also ready to move on. Caitlin building the tree house with her own two hands represents her working to re-build her new, different life without Ingrid. I loved the fact that she finished her tree house and the the theater was torn down in the same day. It was such a marvelous metaphor.

I hope I haven't made this too obvious and it comes as a surprise when I say that I loved this novel. It was beautifully written, full of amazing characters and leaves a lasting impression of life after... If you haven't gotten your hands on it yet, please don't hold still. Run! And lucky for you it is just being re-released in paperback on October 5th, 2010.



  1. This sounds really good, and your review makes it so much more appealing! Brilliant review :)

  2. I read this book at the end of last year and I absolutely LOVED it. Definitely one of my favorites! Great review. :)

  3. Your review really makes me want to read this, so I have added it to my wishlist. I love the looks of this book as well.

  4. Great review. Yours is the first review I've seen that included pictures from the book. That really makes me more interested.

  5. Its not difficult to fall in love with this book - high praise indeed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. PS I'm also participating in the September Spectacular Challenge.

  6. It is a lovely review (can see why you picked it for the hop).

    I had heard of this book but yours is the first in-depth review I have read of it. Will have to check out now.

  7. Wow! Amazing review! What a tough subject too! I got goosebumps just reading your review. Very emotional! Thanks for coming by my blog today too! ;)
    The Delusional Diaries

  8. Thank you so much for this review. I think I am going to buy it on my Nook right now. My cousin commited suicide in May of this year, and some days it is still really hard but I am glad there are books like this that help others understand. The novel I am working on has to do with a lot of my personal experiences with his suicide, but I have been procrastinating partly because I know it will be REALLY hard and heartbreaking for me to write. Thanks again for the review :)

  9. Interesting sounding book! I think I've seen this one at the library --- now I just need to grab it and try it, myself!


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