May 03, 2012

Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Hardcover, 224 pages
Expected publication: May 31, 2012 by Viking Juvenile

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A romantic and empowering book about bullying
Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.

There is a big part of me that doesn’t even want to write this review, because I appreciate what Colasanti was going for, and I wish bullying was something that was addressed more often in YA. Not even necessarily as a central theme, but it would be great if it was touched on in some of these books that are nothing more than romance. It’s a big issue with teenagers and we simply do not see it addressed often enough. That said, I had many issues with Keep Holding On, some that kept me from enjoying it.

The characters fell flat for me. None of them are really fleshed out, the love interest is practically a stranger even in the end, and our main character isn’t much more than a bullied victim with low self-esteem (obviously). That said, it’s sad what she goes through at school, and I hate that this is something that occurs daily in this country. There are a lot of problems in America, but I think bullying is the worst. It’s bad enough that things are hard financially, but we make it worse by treating each other horribly, and unfortunately the majority of it happens in school when people are at a most vulnerable point in their development.

Bullying isn’t the only issue Keep Holding On addresses, but I kind of wish it had been. The other issues just aren’t addressed enough to serve a purpose. It felt like there was too much going on but none of it was developed enough.

The one aspect I didn’t find believable was Noelle’s reactions to her home life. Yes, there are neglectful parents out there, I know this. But the thing that struck me was the fact that Noelle is starving but never feeds herself. I’ve been hungry. I know the feeling. When I was of age, I got a job, and you know what I did with the money? I fed myself.  Noelle shouldn’t have to feed herself, but that’s the life she’s been given, and instead of doing that she spends her money shopping. If you’re truly hungry (and worried about being made fun of for your “lunch”), your money is going to feed you before it goes on new clothes. These just weren’t authentic actions of a starving teenager, in my experience.

Keep Holding On didn’t move me the way I was expecting, but it is definitely sad and I would still recommend it to teens everywhere.

2.5/5 Stars


  1. I haven't read this book yet, but I probably wasn't going to. Contemp YA hasn't really lived up to its standards for me. This looks like one of them. I feel like authors just don't know how to have the perfect mix of a really bad issue, rounded characters, and a simple romance. Just an observation, because I am NOT a writer, and I really have no idea how to write a book.
    Thanks for the review!
    Alyssa <3

    1. I see what you mean! Contemporary to me is more difficult for authors to pull off than paranormal/fantasy because it does need to be more realistic and relatable. But when done well I LOVE contemporary. :)

  2. I love books by Susane Colasanti! I'm really excited for this book, but i'm sad that you didn't really like it. And i agree with you that bullying, which is a HUGE issue, isn't addressed as much as it should. I wish there were more books about bullying and just mainly bullying. Also the books that i have read that are about bullying don't really show how awful bullying truly is.

  3. Too bad this wasn't addressed as well as it could/should have benn as these are important issues! Thank you for your honest review: hopefully someone else will write a book for teens about these issues that is more well liked.


  4. Oh no! I really want to like this book. Still gonna read it and I hope my experience is different than yours.


  5. Bullying is a horrid issue that needs to addressed on multiple levels, I think that is good that it is reaching into the pages of books. I think I might try this, even if there were some issues.


  6. I've been looking forward to reading this one, though I don't generally read sad books. It's got a pretty cover though! Thanks for the review

  7. Great review! I love that this book is about bullying at a time when that topic needs to be addressed! I am sorry to read in your review that you thought it didn't do as good a job with that topic as it could have but at least it is an option for teens to read!

  8. This book covers a lot of issues including teen love, parental neglect and bullying. Your review was very good and I'm actually considering buying this book.

  9. I love that you were so honest with your review. I was a bullied teen and am constantly telling my four kids the importance of not saying the wrong thing to kids that would hurt their feelings. I still want to give this book a go. Thanks for your great point of view. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

  10. I read this book yesterday, and I do agree with some of what you said - although I did connect a bit better with Noelle than you seemed to, the other characters fell flat, especially the love interest, as you said. There really wasn't enough time to get to know them, and they weren't developed well. I appreciated that the book talked about a very serious subject - there definitely needs to be more books that explore and expose bullying. I also agree with you about the hunger thing - she had money, why not buy food? It was absolutely disgusting that her mother didn't provide for her, but Noelle had the means to provide for herself, so that seemed a bit odd to me too. Also when Sherae said she could come over for dinner whenever she wanted, if it were me, I'd have taken her up on it if it meant the difference between starving or being fed. Sherae's family could obvious afford it and they loved Noelle. I think I enjoyed the book a bit more than you did, but I really appreciate your honest review. :-)

  11. I am so glad to see more books out about bullying and how children keep it a secret my mom didn't know how severe the bullying at my school was until the school started to investigate the bruises and other issues I was having at wanted to rule out child abuse. But All they need was a measuring tape it was from being slammed into open lockers the 4 parallel lines on my back were the with of the hall locker and the with of the gym lockers apart. When later that same year random bruises started showing up my mom noticed and called the school.

  12. OMG I want this book sooo bad and reading your review doesn't help much :) So jealous

  13. I have this one on my review list. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this.

  14. I'd like to read this book! I think I might like it!


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