Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Caitlin doesn’t know what she’s going to do after her best friend Ingrid commits suicide. Anger mixes with guilt and grief within her, and she struggles through life at school and at home, with people treating her differently as a result.
The discovery of Ingrid’s prized journal under her bed, however, helps Caitlin begin to heal and accept the tragedy. As she makes new friends, reconciles with people she’s drifted away from, and falls in love, Caitlin begins to better understand the depth of Ingrid’s sadness and how she will be able to move on.
HOLD STILL is a beautifully written debut novel about a difficult subject. It will tear at your heart and leave you feel wiser, more fulfilled than when you started out.
Nina LaCour’s novel is perhaps more effective than other books about suicide I’ve read because we are able to step out of Caitlin’s head and instead also watch her interact with others. There is a great balance of internal and external dialogue. “Issues” books run the risk of being too “in the main character’s head,” and I appreciated that HOLD STILL shows us how friendship and love are an integral part of healing as well, alongside emotional acceptance and forgiveness.
The characters are a gentle and enjoyable lot, even if they are somewhat lacking in development. How do different people react differently to the loss of a loved one? One person’s existence—and eventual death—means different things for different people, and I felt that HOLD STILL really impressed that satisfactorily. Everyone’s reactions to Ingrid’s death, and their way of dealing with their personal grief as well as the grief of their friends, were touching and believable.
If you’re looking for a challenging but ultimately inspiring read, consider HOLD STILL. The book will linger with you long after you put it down. It is an exceptionally well done book about the aftermaths of suicide, and I look forward to what Nina LaCour has to offer us next.
Gayle Forman (If I Stay)
Laurie Halse Anderson
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 4.5 out of 5 - I think the cover is amazing. It's so evocative, from the the muted colors, to the model's facial expression, to the doodles, handwritten words, and stencil-like title. Absolutely appropriate for the book and beautiful and attention-grabbing besides.
Penguin / Oct. 2009 / Hardcover / $17.99