Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself.
Caitlin and her mother spend the summer traveling in Northern California. And then its back to school. The first shock is how Ms. Delani, their photography teacher and their favorite teacher, is ignoring Caitlin. Ingrid was a superior photographer and Caitlin felt like a sidekick, but even so, she expected more from Ms. Delani. Caitlin spends a lot of her spare time in the back seat of her car, the one she cant drive because she never got her license. She spends a lot of time avoiding other students because (a) they were not really her friends and (b) she doesnt want to talk about Ingrid.
But several things happen that she must face. Shes befriended by a new girl at school, Dylan, who rumor has it is a lesbian and was kicked out of her previous school because she got caught kissing a girl. Shes also befriended by Taylor, a boy in the in-crowd. Can these two events bring Caitlin out of her depression?
Nina LaCours Hold Still is a wonderful book. It is on a par with The Hate List by Jennifer Brown and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher although it tackles suicide from a different perspective&one girls struggle to cope with the emotions resulting from the suicide of a best friend. Caitlin must battle everything: her parents concern, the expectations and requirements of a new friendship with Dylan and the fear that it will diminish her friendship with Ingrid, the possibility of a boyfriend, the disappointment of a teachers reaction to her.
Every character is real. Every emotion is real. Ingrid comes alive (no pun intended) based on Caitlins reminiscences. Incorporating photography into the plot enhances the storys effectiveness. According to my friend Helen, Ms. LaCour, who is her sons English teacher in California, &is nice as can be. She's working on a new novel right now. Its good to know that a gifted author is nice and that a new novel is in the works.
Should I have given this book 5 stars instead of 4? Who knows. Im a conservative grader. Suffice it to say, you should read Hold Still. Then read The Hate List (which I reviewed here and gave 4 stars) and Thirteen Reasons Why (which is also reviewed here).
Hold Still deals with a girl’s life in the aftermath of her best friend’s survival. It’s not a deeply dramatic or very dark book, and I found that Caitlin’s story was tinged with honest realism. Sure, she’s really torn up about what happened, and she’s kind of a mess, but not in an extreme sense. She still goes to school, talks to people, hangs out. This book isn’t so much about suicide or grief as living life, even when things go bad. That’s definitely a message I can stand behind, and the author’s simple treatment made this much more my style of book.
As a character-focused reader, I love books when the characters are believable and three-dimensional. I especially love books where everyone is nice. Hold Still has no villain, and I appreciated that so much. No character is perfect, but everyone is trying to do their best. Caitlin’s friends and family make mistakes, but they’re nice people through it all. Caitlin doesn’t like everyone at her school, but none of them fall into the “bitchy blond cheerleader” or “asshole bad boy” character type. LaCour peopled this novel with authentic, real people, and that was definitely the best part of this book.
At the same time, this is still an extremely short book. It covers all its bases and I didn’t feel like there were missing pieces, but there still could have been more. I’m not sure how impacting Hold Still is going to be in the long run. I enjoyed the story and liked Caitlin, but nothing stood out to me. It was kind of a case where I saw potential and loved the concept, but didn’t think the idea was played out as well as it could have been.
I think that, overall, this is a very worthwhile read. I don’t have any major criticisms to make about it, though it didn’t quite blow me away. Hold Still is a wonderful coming of age story about a strong young woman. It was unique and definitely one I’d recommend to other readers. And after this, I’ll be more willing to read other books Nina LaCour writes in the future.
Ingrid is dead, but Caitlin must go on. Caitlin's best friend has killed herself but no one is sure why. Then Caitlin finds Ingrid's diary and is shown a side of her best friend that she never knew.
In Hold Still Nina Lacour tackles the subjects of teen suicide and of loss. Yet she does so in a way that provides hope to those readers who, like Caitlin, have suffered a horrible loss of someone they love. Suicide, and maybe especially teen suicide, is a difficult topic for any writer, yet Lacour handles it with skill seldom seen in realistic fiction. She portrays Caitlyn's pain in a way that's real and yet it leaves the reader with a taste of optimism that there is life even after such a tragic loss. I would recommend this book to anyone wha has lost someone to suicide or death in general.