Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in | Posted on 7:24 AM

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

One night, Ingrid went home, got in the bathtub, and slit her wrists, and her best friend Caitlin has no idea why. Reeling in the shock of Ingrid's suicide, Caitlin tries to hold together in a world that seems horribly unreal and nonsensical; her parents whisper and gaze with concern. The school year is restarting soon. Caitlin will have to go back.

And then she discovers Ingrid's journal hidden under her own bed.

Her friend didn't leave a suicide note; but she did leave a message. Caitlin struggles to decipher the reasons behind a life severed, in the process finding herself again.

This book takes on an awful event with clear vision and compassion, and while reading it was wrenching at times, there were moments of aching beauty as well. Quiet and understated prose forms a perfect complement to the oft-overwrought subject of teen anguish, and Caitlin's discoveries unfold like true revelations -- I was with her the whole way, and I felt like I knew these characters as intimately as childhood friends.

LaCour also deftly weaves this story of loss and healing around a central absence -- Ingrid herself, who we only meet through Caitlin's memories and her own journal. Lost and gone, she seems vibrantly alive in both Caitlin's words and her journal entries, which are delicately rendered in handwritten script and interleaved with illustrations. Ingrid is both compelling and endlessly elusive, and I longed to know her more as Caitlin mourned her loss -- this is a story about connections lost and made, misunderstandings and deep kinship and new, tentative trusts. Caitlin explores the gaps that prevent us from truly knowing even our closest loved ones, even as the novel shows the beauty of our impossible attempts to bridge those divides.

So please don't be put off by the 'depressing' subject matter; if you can handle the heartache, this novel will reward you fully, in a way that is far more satisfying and fulfilling than any simple answers.

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