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.
Although I've seen the YA novels of Susane Colasanti praised across the blogsphere, Keep Holding On was the first book by her that I've actually had a chance to read! Based on the cover, I expected the novel to be a sweet teen romance (which parts of it were), but I was happy to discover that Colasanti also decided to dig deeper into the darker sides of high school.
From page one the story of Noelle really pulled at my heartstrings. Although it has been over 5 years since I was in high school myself, I was immediately reminded of the daily turmoil and struggle that comes with being a teenager. Focusing on topics like bullying, poverty, depression, and suicide, Colasanti really tried to provide a realistic portrayal of the issues that many teens across North America continue to deal with every day. While I may no longer be in high school myself, I can really see teens relating to many of the struggles that Noelle has to go through in the book.
Despite the fact that Keep Holding On did a fairly good job of tackling teen issues, there was something missing that prevented me from falling head over heels in love with the story. Maybe its because I'm 23 and this book is much better suited to those between the ages of 13- 17. I also wish Colsanti had focused a little bit more attention on the issue of suicide which arises in the book. I know the author was trying to keep the end of the story as uplifting as possible, but it felt like she kind of brushed the issue of suicide away rather then confronting it head on. Putting this fact aside, I would still definitely recommend this book to teen girls who are currently in high school themselves.
Rating: 3 Stars