Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Keep Holding On

Keep Holding On - Susane Colasanti Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker. I won my copy in a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.Books like Keep Holding On are the kind of books no one really wants to criticize. It delivers a strong anti-bullying message with its stark portrayal of the torment Noelle goes through and anyone who has been bullied--no, anyone with a heart--will realize how worthwhile the novel is. After the recent attention on suicides due to bullying and bullying itself, this kind of novel was begging to be written. Colasanti's novel begins strongly, but a lack of strong characterization throughout the cast and lacking coverage of other subjects brought into the novel weaken its overall impact.Noelle's characterization is fantastic. The self-loathing, the way she felt helpless to change her fate until late in the novel, her feelings of isolation--they all ring so true because I've felt the same way. From kindergarten to twelfth grade, there wasn't a year I wasn't bullied by my classmates, and I was more than happy to graduate a few weeks ago after a rough senior year that saw me having panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. Like Noelle, I considered suicide, but I decided to keep holding on because I knew it would get better eventually. I found something I loved doing and clung to it for dear life, and Noelle reflects so many aspects of me in her personality that it's almost uncomfortable.What I wanted to see was stronger characterization across the board. Noelle's love interest Julian is never really a character. He functions more as a goal or ideal to Noelle. With him in that role, their romance becomes very underwhelming and he is robbed of becoming the full character he deserves to be. Noelle's bullies and her own mother get taps of characterization, but they deserved more depth too. Two-hundred pages is relatively short for a novel and when major topics like suicide, child neglect, and rape are introduced, they don't get the full attention they deserve and need because of the length and concentration on bullying.So while I feel Keep Holding On itself is only worth three stars because of its weaknesses, I will give it a fourth star for the resources listed at the back of the book. The links to organizations like A Thin Line, To Write Love On Her Arms, and Love Is Respect are perfectly placed so any reader the story resonated with can reach out to the right people and groups. Short and poignant, Keep Holding On is the kind of novel I can see making a difference in the right person's life.(Holy cow, I just realized I was concise this time. Also, Avril Lavigne constantly sang her song "Keep Holding On" in my head while I was reading.)