Review: Hold Still by Nina LaCour

in a sentence or so: Caitlin's best friend Ingrid dies by suicide, and leaves her journal hidden underneath Caitlin's bed. this is a story of Caitlin's journey through grief, acceptance, hope, and pain.

"hold still" opens with Caitlin's breakdown. the very first thing we read is how she hears about and copes (or lack thereof) with the immediate aftermath of the suicide. Ingrid's death is right before the end of their sophomore year in high school, and so Caitlin has the whole summer to succumb to grief and hurt. as the fall rolls back around, Caitlin has to go back to school knowing she will face it alone. her only hope for solace and some sense of normalcy, her photography teacher, ignores Caitlin and gives her the cold shoulder. it's not until the new girl Dylan shows up that Caitlin has any hope in her heavy and devastating world without her best friend.

to say this book is beautiful and lyrical is an understatement. i cannot believe how well written and what rich and vivid emotions pour through the pages.  Caitlin is slowly stumbling forward after Ingrid's death, but the intermittent reading of Ingrid's journal pages put her life on pause and crush her little seedling of a spirit. Caitlin knew, but didn't really know, what sort of pain and sadness Ingrid was in...and reading about it after her suicide is excruciating. the journal is a glimpse of what was, the uncertainty of Ingrid, the guilt for Caitlin.

the elements of this book are revealed with perfect timing - both with what happened with Ingrid and what is currently happening with Caitlin.  we meet the supporting cast in Caitlin's life one at a time, with due introductions, and with purpose.  there is time spent on dwelling, and moving. time spent on what was, and what is to come.  there is a really delicate balance to maintain, and "hold still" does keep us on the tight rope.

reading this was beautiful, thoughtful, moving, and just plain painful.  there's how her parents are trying to help her cope, how her friend Taylor develops into an unforeseen yet just-what-the-doctor-ordered romance, the new friend, and unraveling Ingrid's secrets.  the book is so focused on relationships with others, but ultimately we are partnered with Caitlin and how she wants and needs to relate to others, grieving for Ingrid, and finding herself on the other side of the chasm.  i want to keep a part of this book with me always, like Caitlin did with Ingrid's journal. it is absolutely no surprise to me that this book was a morris award honor winner.

fave quote: "All through my chest and my stomach is this regret over what I'm doing with Dylan, in my hands and feet is this electricity at the thought of Taylor leaning close to me, and all over my whole body, way, deep inside it, is this hurting over Ingrid.  I could scream at the top of my lungs and the sound I would make wouldn't be half as loud as I'd need it to be." (106)

fix er up: some of the elements felt a bit trite - like what a perfect guy Taylor was, how Dylan just happened to stroll her moody-yet-perfect-friend-self into Caitlin's life right as Ingrid left...but even with those elements, there was so much hurt and pain and raw anger that you just WANTED those things for Caitlin.

title: hold still
author: Nina LaCour
genre: Friendship, Suicide, Lisa's Faves

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

3 comments:

  1. I haven't seen many reviews of this one, but you make it sounds really great! I'll have to add this to my TBR pile for sure.

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  2. i look forward to reading what you think! it was such a pleasant surprise...even broke me from a "idontknowwhattoreadnext" funk.

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  3. are you going to read ender's game after close kin?

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