Book Reviews

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

My edition: Kindle Owned
Pages: 264
Standalone
Genre: Sucicide, Teen, YA, Grief
Published: Oct. 20, 2009
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis:

An arresting story about starting over after a friend’s suicide, from a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction.

dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t.

Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself.

Review:

I have not personally been close to someone who has committed suicide. I know of a few people who have but I wasn’t close to them. My husband, unfortunately, knows this loss all too well. While it has been thirteen years ago I think sometimes it’s still fresh. What I can never understand is when this does happen, why do people have to ask horrible, insensitive questions. The author did capture the few times it happened well. When someone is dealing with a loss, especially a suicide, the questions they get asked is ridiculous. One question being such as “How did they do it?” How about you don’t ask.

Spoilers ahead!

This story told in five parts, 89 chapters, and 264 pages will hit you powerfully. Caitlin’s best friend Ingrid has committed suicide. Not only is it hard for her to cope at times but other times she feels guilty for still living life. Guilty that she didn’t notice the signs before or that she feels like she didn’t know Ingrid at times. Guilty for the times she wasn’t really there for her friend when her friend needed her the most.

If she had told me why she cut herself all the time, or that it was the pills that made her act so spaced out, or that she was even on pills, or even saw doctors, or any of it, I would have done my best to help her. I’m not saying I’m a superhero. I’m not saying I would have just swooped down and saved her. I’m just saying the only reason everything was a waste was that she made it a waste.

34%

Caitlin has a hard time understanding why Ingrid never fully reached out to her. Through Ingrid’s journal, Caitlin finds out there was a side of her best friend that she never knew and she has a hard time. Her feelings get confusing for her. They are all over the place. While most of the book she tries to get through the loss by herself but learns that it’s better to lean on people.

How it’s so easy for her to not feel anything at all, to be just completely gone, to not be around to see how f**** up she’s made me.

48%

I’ve learned that suicide leaves behind more pain. It leaves behind more sorrow and while some family and friends can move through the healing process, others cannot. As Caitlin said, Ingrid no longer feels anything and is gone. She won’t see the tremendous pain she left behind. The emotions that Caitlin goes through are so realistic. I feel like the author may have been through this. I didn’t look to see if she had or not. The guilt of living, the regret of not doing more, the confusion of why it happened, the confusion of moving on, and the hope that maybe it will be alright in the end. The healing process is never done. No matter the loss. They say with time it gets better, but I think it’s healing with others, and relearning how to handle life is what makes it better. Not time. One thing they don’t tell you is the triggers. Triggers will happen and the wound will feel as fresh as the day it happened. Caitlin has a few of these triggers. The author did a wonderful job of the triggers happening and Caitlin trying to process what to do next.

Caitlin finds Ingrid’s journal under her bed when trying to look for her radio remote. This journal is a trigger and several entries are triggers. But the good thing about triggers is that once we learn about them, we can try to process them. Caitlin does just that. At first, she feels like she has to hold on to the journal and read it slowly. This way she won’t lose the chance to continue getting closer with her best friend, but by the end of the book she is able to part with it and she even shares certain entries with friends and family.

I think this is another book that should be taught in high school. While The Scarlet Letter and White Fang are amazing books they don’t necessarily connect to issues that every kid deals with especially today. While maybe books such as this being taught might open eyes and it might also have kids seeking help. It would show that they aren’t as alone as they think.

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