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Hold Fast
Author(s)
Genre(s)
Age Range
11+
Release Date
March 01, 2013
ISBN
9780545299886
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From NYT bestselling author Blue Balliett, the story of a girl who falls into Chicago's shelter system, and from there must solve the mystery of her father's strange disappearance.

Where is Early's father? He's not the kind of father who would disappear. But he's gone . . . and he's left a whole lot of trouble behind.

As danger closes in, Early, her mom, and her brother have to flee their apartment. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to move into a city shelter. Once there, Early starts asking questions and looking for answers. Because her father hasn't disappeared without a trace. There are patterns and rhythms to what's happened, and Early might be the only one who can use them to track him down and make her way out of a very tough place.

With her signature, singular love of language and sense of mystery, Blue Balliett weaves a story that takes readers from the cold, snowy Chicago streets to the darkest corner of the public library, on an unforgettable hunt for deep truths and a reunited family.

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2 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0  (2)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0  (1)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0

Hold Fast and Hold Tight

It has been a long time since I have read a book and completely fallen in love with the characters. All that changed when I picked up Hold Fast. I didn't want to finish the book - I didn't want to leave the characters- I just wanted to keep on reading. Early, Sum, Dash, and Jubie are characters you want to hold on to. I wanted to know how things ended but didn't want to say goodbye.

Reading is important to the Pearl family and Early's father reads to his children constantly. The Pearls dream of owning a home in a nice neighborhood. So to earn extra money, the father starts a side job delivering old books. But this job lands him in serious trouble. Early's father just disappears!

Balliett demonstrates her own love of words throughout this novel. She writes poetically about the city of Chicago and the power of family. Her use of wordplay through Early's voice allows the reader to see the magic and power of words. Being a self-proclaimed word nerd myself, Hold Fast illustrates all the wonder I see in language.

The characters in this book are well developed and believable. Early is persistent, clever and true to her family. The story line is intriguing as Balliett takes readers on a variety of twists and turns. What happened o Early's father? Will the family ever be together again? Was Early's dad the man they thought he was?

Hold Fast also introduces younger readers to the poetry of Langston Hughes. One of his books is at the center of the main mystery of the book. The poems ring true to Early and touch deep into the heart of the family and Early starts to see his words as clues. As Hughes reflects on the importance of dreams, Early has dreams of her own.

Students who like a bit of mystery and a story of persistence will enjoy this book. Hold Fast is great as a read aloud and for adults as well. The book doesn't stay long on my classroom bookshelf and has gotten rave reviews from my class.

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4.0
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Mystery with social importance.

Early Pearl's parents Dash and Summer, are having a hard time of it-- Early was born when they were still in high school, they don't have Early's grandparents around to help, and Dash, the father, works hard at the Chicago Public library to make ends meet. The family lives in a small but cozy apartment, reading lots of books and playing together. One day, Dash is apparently hit by a truck and disappears. Summer knows that Dash isn't the kind of father to run off on his family, but all of the police and social workers look at the family's socioeconomic status and decide that he is. Things go from bad to worse without Dash's income, and after the family's apartment is trashed by masked robbers looking for something in the family's book, the Pearls end up in a homeless shelter. Early is especially upset by this (her brother Jubilation is too young to understand their plight fully) and is determined to find out what has happened to her father so the family can get back to their dream of owning their own home. She spends time at the library where her father worked, interviewing those who knew him and trying to figure out why he was selling books out of their apartment, and finds her father's former teacher, Mr. Waive, who has fallen on hard times himself but does all he can to assist Early. How are the books tied in to her father's disappearance? What does the largest diamond heist have to do with the masked robbers? Will Dash return to the family before things become even more dire?

Good Points
A strong sense of place, as well as excellent details about what it is like to be homeless, add a lot to this mystery. Lyrical language and the use of Langston Hughes' poetry will make this one teachers love to use as a class read aloud. The social aspects of Early's homelessness and her desire to help other families in her situation is a good touch as well. I found this a more intriguing read than Chasing Vermeer and the books in that series.
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