Publisher: Viking Juvenile
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.
Susan Colasanti's writing is very approachable and honest--and definitely tugged more than a few heart strings in Keep Holding On! If you're looking for a fun, light-hearted read, this is not the novel for you! Ms. Colasanti tackles much heavier themes in this novel--bullying, poverty, and dysfunctional families. She captures the struggles and feelings of pain, humiliation and sadness of someone going through so many things; a young teen being bullied relentlessly at school while receiving no support or help at home. Although Noelle came off as whiny some times and I wished she would take control and try to make improvements on her own, I can see where she's coming from, since she already has so much to deal with.
The only major issue I had with this book was how neatly everything wrapped up in the end. After all the struggles Noelle went through, I don't deny that she deserves a better and happier life, but the way things wrapped up in the end seemed a little too fast and wasn't consistent with the tone and pace of the rest of the novel. Nonetheless, I though Keep Holding On was a well written book overall, and I am looking forward to Ms. Colasanti's future works!
Overall: 4 out of 5
Plot: 4 stars
Characters: 3.75 stars
Writing: 4 stars
Cover: 3.5 stars