A romantic and empowering book about bullyingSusane Colasanti has done it again with a fantastic contemporary. The novel was short, sweet and to the point. Colasanti created a realistic high school, unlike most novels Keep Holding On was relatable to both male and females.
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.
Noelle, our protagonist, may be a female, but the troubles of high school are relatable to both genders. Being bullied by those around her, Noelle has a difficult time fitting in with her peers. The tears would not stop while I was reading Keep Holding On. This book was close to my heart emotionally; I was able to relate to Noelle, because for a majority of my life I was like Noelle. Like Noelle, I was bullied a majority of my life, and by the time I was high school I had major issues with my self-esteem. As a senior, and a young adult I have learned to stand up for myself. So when Noelle was finally getting her ground, and standing up to her bullies, there is a feeling of joy and relief. The love interest in the novel, Julian Porter, is sweet, caring and is good for Noelle. He is a good guy, and Noelle does make mistakes when it relates to Julien. He was a likable character, and he cared for Noelle. I wasn't annoyed of Julien, but I kind of wished he wasn't in the novel.
Then you have Noelle’s mother. She is what I would consider an “evil-stepmother”, like the one from Cinderella. What mother could neglect their own child to the point where the child doesn’t get actual food? Noelle’s mother’s actions toward Noelle just made me furious. Not only I did I feel horrible for Noelle, but that fact some people had the nerve to something of that demeanor. Each bit from the tormentors at school to her mother Noelle’s life was a living hell. Though her life was anything but pleasant, the moment Noelle stood up for herself it was all but more triumphant. So as a reader it was more entertaining and moving, once she was able to take a stand.
The novel has a focus in the issues of bullying, and the romance intertwines with the whole thing. If the romance wasn't in the novel it would not have taken away from the book, but it was more of a side story that didn't matter all the much [to me]. Keep Holding On was a touching and enjoyable read; I can't wait to read more from Colasanti in the future.