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Book Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

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Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti is a novel that begins with much potential, but falls flat by the end. Noelle is a junior in high school whose only goal is to survive the year. Her mother neglects her and her classmates torment her.

She has no idea what to think when Julian Porter, her crush, starts paying attention to her. She thinks it’s better to be safe than sorry, but when bullying by a fellow classmate takes a turn for the worst, Noelle realizes that she has to finally stand up for herself and try to make the best out of life.

I was very disappointed in this novel. When I picked it up, I realized that the plot was not remotely original, so I was hoping that the characters and the overall message would make up for it.

Readers can tell they have read an amazing book if they can dwell on the themes and ideas of the novel for hours. Keep Holding On had the potential to be not only fantastic, but life-changing for some readers. It had the chance for readers to close the novel and have a completely different view on bullying, a problem that has plagued society for hundreds of years.

It had a chance to be an eye-opener for many teenagers looking for a solution to their bullying experiences. Was it? Unfortunately, Keep Holding On did not create that effect for me.

Keep Holding On jumps right into the plot, giving the reader little background information on Noelle and how she came to be in her position. The story starts with Noelle finding lunch especially painful, because there is no one for her to sit with. A little bit later, the reader finds out that Noelle does in fact have a best friend, Sherae.

The whole time I was reading this book I was wondering why Noelle didn’t sit with her best friend at lunch; Colasanti never answered my question. The story gets repetitive after a while, but eventually it becomes extremely depressing. The reader just kind of wants to see things get better, and it’s a relief when they finally do.

I was expecting the climax and ending of this story to be a little more revolutionary. I was hoping for not only Noelle’s problem with bullying to be solved, but the school’s problem with bullying to finally come to a close. I was wanting her to stand up for herself on a school level, but instead she stood up for herself on a personal level. I suppose I was just hoping for her to make a big change in her school. The ending suggested Noelle would start believing in herself and becoming her own person. I wish Keep Holding On would have touched upon that a little more.

There is a real lack of characters in Keep Holding On, and those there are failed to be developed. I felt like Noelle’s past was crowded, but I was only getting to her about the significant parts of her life. I would have loved to learn more about Noelle’s mom, who is intentionally a horrific character throughout the entire book.

Noelle’s best friend, Sherae, is extremely undeveloped. Though she has a problem she needs to solve herself, there are no detailed descriptions of exactly what happened to her. Keep Holding On would have been a lot better had there been more character development.

The characters in this book are so flat that it’s hard to really decide whether I like any of them. I am not a big fan of Noelle. Her crush, Julian, really likes her, but she keeps passing it off, saying she isn’t good enough for him. I found her frustrating throughout the whole novel. Her tone is bitter and sarcastic, touching on situations such as people having fun around her and throwing in a comment such as “I wonder what that feels like.” That gets very irritating, very fast. It feels as though Colasanti is just preaching through Noelle without giving us strong details about what’s really happening.

The writing is horrible. The novel is  flat and monotonous, with Colasanti writing the same way throughout the whole book. It is like seeing the world through eyes where apparently everything is terrible, but the details are masked and hidden.  Keep Holding On, intending to be powerful, is just incredibly preachy and unnecessary. With all this being said, the plot isn’t even original. I have read many young adult books focusing on bullying, and a lot of them have been done much better than this book.

Overall, Keep Holding On has the best of intentions, but instead of being eye-opening, it made me want to shut my eyes and close the book. With a stunning lack of detail, preachy writing, no sign of uniqueness, and one-dimensional characters, Keep Holding On is a memorable book, but not in a good way. Rather than thinking about how bullying is a huge problem that needs to be solved, after closing this book, the only things I could think about were all the productive things I could have gotten done in the two hours I wasted reading Keep Holding On.

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About Rebecca Danielle

Hi! I'm Rebecca, and I'm the administrator of Good, Bad, and Ugly Books, found on Tumblr, a blog with almost 700 followers (and counting!) I've been reviewing for over a year now. I review young adult novels of all different genres. Please check out my reviews! If you have any questions about me or what I do, please check my contact info on my Tumblr blog. Enjoy!