Friday, June 1, 2012
"Keep Holding On" by Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult
Between Noelle’s difficult home life and the bullying she endures at school, all she wants is to get out of her small town. Noelle would give anything to be with Julian Porter. But staying with her emotionally distant boyfriend is safer. When things heat up between Noelle and Julian, she has to decide whether she can be her true self with him.
This book made me so emotional. I knew that it dealt with bullying a little, but I didn't realize how deep into the subject it got. It is so real and terrifying, because the things that happen to Noelle and the other kids at her school, happen to teens all over the world. And just like in the book, parents and teachers often do little to stop any of it from happening. I went through so many emotions while reading this. I was so sad for Noelle and the awful relationship she had with her mother. I was angry for her and some of the other kids, because of the way they were treated by the bullies at school. I was appalled, because so many of the adults just ignored it or looked the other way. I was also grateful for Noelle, because she had a couple of great people on her side and that isn't always the case for bullied kids.
Noelle is very poor, in a very rich town. She often has to take lunches that consist of mayo and mustard sandwiches, and the mean kids constantly torment her during the school days. Noelle was luckier that some of the bullied kids, because she had an excellent best friend, who didn't care about any of that stuff. Sherae might be one of my favorite characters in YA, at least that I have read recently. She was an excellent friend to Noelle, she didn't care that her family had money and Noelle's didn't, she loved her for who she was and not what she had. Sherae was always trying to convince Noelle that she was better than she saw herself and she desperately wanted her to stand up for herself. A little further into the story Noelle makes a second friend, Simon, who also only likes her for her. He's also above caring about the social hierarchy and just wants Noelle to be who she is. I wish every bullied kid had friends like these two. I'm sure it would make high school so much easier if you always had someone in your corner.
The adults in this book, except one teacher, left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, I think it's probably a pretty acurate portrayal of how adults handle bullying. It's almost as if they think avoidance will make the problem go away. Or maybe the don't want to get involved because it's too much of a hassle. I don't care how inconvenient it is, if you see a kid getting bullied, you are the adult and you are supposed to try and help them. I don't even want to get started on Noelle's mother. There are so many things that are wrong with that women and the way she treats her daughter, once you start the book, you will understand.
I think this is a book that both teens and adults should read. It's terrifying and tragic, but it's what is happening all over the country. We see it in the news, but do we ever really pay attention. I may not relate to Noelle, because our teen years were very different, but I definitely feel for her and any kid who gets tormented like she did in this book. I think this is a must read.