Book 33: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti
Noelle’s life is far from perfect. Her mother ignores her. She never has enough to eat. Her boyfriend doesn’t want to be seen in public with her. She’s constantly bullied. And the guy she really wants to be with can never be hers. She can’t wait for her real life to start – until someone takes the bullying too far, and Noelle realizes that maybe it’s time to start taking control of her life now.
I wanted to like this book. I was never really bullied in school, but I know what it’s like to have no friends and sit alone at lunch, so I had high hopes for this book, even if I hadn’t enjoyed the last one that I read by Colasanti. I will give her credit for not having the same romantic plotline as in the last two books that I read. There were also some parts of the book that I enjoyed.
As a whole, though, I felt like this book was lacking. The first three quarters of the book is practically nothing but a detailed account of how miserable Noelle’s life is. I hated her mother. I hated the people at her school. I even hated her at times. I can understand staying with a guy who treats you badly because you feel that no one else would want you, but she clearly has another guy who wants her – and it’s the guy she actually likes – so I found that whole relationship really frustrating, even after she admits the real reason she was scared to date him. I also don’t like that she was just handed a job as co-editor of the literary magazine.
It’s not until the very end of the book that she starts telling the truth and going after what she wants, and by that point I just feel like Colasanti comes on a bit too strong with her message of “bullying is bad and you can’t let them get to you and things will get better.” Colasanti has said that she drew on her own experiences writing this novel, and I can understand why she would feel passionately about the message that she’s trying to convey, but I just feel the ending was a bit much. I didn’t want to read about Noelle yelling me how to live my life. I would have rather seen her learn for herself. A simple “I couldn’t let them bother me” would have been better than “you can’t let them bother you,” at least in my opinion.
I suppose this might be a good book for teenagers who are feeling suicidal. For me, though, it was a bit heavy-handed and not all that pleasant to read about as a whole.