Keep Holding On

Keep Holding On

4.2 79
by Susane Colasanti
     
 

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A romantic and empowering book about bullying

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

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Overview

A romantic and empowering book about bullying

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A fast read that will give readers plenty to think about and a list of resources to tap into if they need them.”—Publishers Weekly

“Noelle's journey from victim to victor . . .  is an important story for anyone who has felt the sting of their peers' cruelty.”—VOYA

“Emotionally satisfying from beginning to end.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This novel could be recommended to those who enjoyed Sonya Sones's What My Mother Doesn't Know or Courtney Summers's Some Girls Are.”—School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
High school junior Noelle is growing up in poverty with a neglectful mother. At school she is the target of bullies who tease her about her sad lunches, corner her in the bathroom, and even shoot her with paintballs. She has even considered suicide, but after another school outcast does kill herself, Noelle realizes, “I can make a choice to do more than just survive. Which is why I’m going to start shaping my life into the one I want.” With the help of a support network that includes a best friend who has her own problems, an artistic new boyfriend, and a teacher, she begins to do just that. The topic of bullying is perennially timely, but Colasanti’s (Waiting for You) characters are rather two-dimensional, particularly Noelle’s too cruel mother and overly perfect friends. Likewise, Noelle’s transition from outcast to advocate, while inspiring, is perhaps too sudden. Even so, this is a fast read that will give readers plenty to think about and a list of resources to tap into if they need them. Ages 14–up. Agent: Gillian MacKenzie, Gillian MacKenzie Agency. (June)
VOYA - Sarah Phillips
Noelle's life is realistic; she is bullied, has no friends, little food, and a neglectful, single mother. Noelle has no self-confidence and dreads life. She realizes that by making wise choices and standing up for herself, life improves. From the cover and summary, it seemed this book would be trivial, but it was enjoyable. Teens who know what it is like to not fit in will related to this story. Many teenagers will be inspired and moved by Noelle. Reviewer: Sarah Phillips, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Debbie Wenk
Sixteen-year-old Noelle's life is bleak. She has a single mom who is too self-involved and mired in her own misery to even bother keeping food on hand. Noelle is the target of two bullies at her high school, and her boyfriend, Matt, is "not ready" to go public with their relationship, content to just make out while skipping study hall. Each day at school is an endurance test—trying to ignore the taunts of her tormentors—as is life at home, wondering if there will be food for dinner or something for her lunch sandwich besides mustard and mayonnaise. Graduation is the brass ring she hangs onto in order to get through each miserable day. Noelle's situation will resonate with teen readers. Her struggles are those of real teens—trying to fit in, feeling left out, searching for love, making hard choices. Readers will feel her despair, but will also detect her inner strength. It is that strength which finally brings about changes in Noelle's life after the suicide of another of the bullies' victims. A side story of Noelle's best friend, Sherae's, date rape is told without graphic descriptions and highlights another kind of victimization. Sherae finds the courage to tell her story after she witnesses Noelle's transformation. Noelle's journey from victim to victor, while a tad too facile, is an important story for anyone who has felt the sting of their peers' cruelty. The author's note offers encouragement plus a list of organizations to which teens can turn for help is included. Reviewer: Debbie Wenk
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Inspired by the author's personal experiences with bullying, this novel encourages readers to "never, ever give up." Noelle's life is bad; her mother drinks and her neglect goes unchecked. The teen eats mustard and mayonnaise sandwiches for lunch, and the smell from her unwashed clothes earns her the nickname "Rotten Egg." Her position as coeditor of the school literary magazine and the company of her science teacher and friends help alleviate her misery. Noelle eventually begins to accept aid from the people who care about her. When incredibly cute Julian shows interest, Noelle has to find the courage to change her life. This includes ending a destructive relationship and opening up about what she endures at home. When the school social worker brings Noelle's mother in for questioning, the story begins to fall apart. The woman hints at remorse, yet remains deranged. The friends take over, supplying Noelle with all she needs, including clean clothes, food, and love. It's not a horrible ending, only one that might seem illusionary to students enduring bullying and abuse in real life. Colasanti's mission to help victims and encourage teens to make a positive difference in the world is clear from her letter to readers and the back matter, which includes a list of resources. This novel could be recommended to those who enjoyed Sonya Sones's What My Mother Doesn't Know (S & S, 2001) or Courtney Summers's Some Girls Are (St. Martin's, 2010).—Pamela Schembri, Newburgh Enlarged City Schools, NY
Kirkus Reviews
If Noelle can just hold on until graduation, she might finally escape the school bullies and her neglectful mother. But when the bullying goes too far, she must choose whether to run away or finally stand up for herself. Caught between her miserable existence at school and a home life that is at best impoverished and at worst abusive, Noelle believes if she can just keep her head down, she can escape to the city, where her life will really begin. Unfortunately, the brutal bullying, her mother's refusal to buy food and a boyfriend who only wants to make out in secret are making it hard for her to stay hopeful. When she is offered a position on the lit mag and her crush, funky Julian Porter, asks her out, Noelle wants to believe that things are finally turning around. Then one of their classmates commits suicide, and Noelle is determined to make sure everyone knows the truth. The familiar story of bullying is elevated by Colasanti's smart dialogue, quirky characters and richly layered plot. Readers will engage intellectually and emotionally with each character, and the countdown toward graduation that marks every chapter heightens Noelle's desperation to escape. The high level of craft in the writing even makes the cloying and overly earnest ending forgivable. Emotionally satisfying from beginning to end. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142426333
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
04/23/2013
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
195,317
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

Praise for Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti:

"[Keep Holding On] ... will give readers plenty to think about and a list of resources to tap into if they need them." —Publishers Weekly

"...smart dialogue, quirky characters and richly layered plot. Emotionally satisfying from beginning to end." —Kirkus

"Noelle's situation will resonate with teen readers. Her struggles are those of real teens—trying to fit in, feeling left out, searching for love, making hard choices." —VOYA

"This novel could be recommended to those who enjoyed Sonya Sones's What My Mother Doesn't Know (S & S, 2001) or Courtney Summers's Some Girls Are (St. Martin's, 2010)." —School Library Journal

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