Hold Still Book Review

Hold Still Book Cover Hold Still
Nina LaCour
Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Penguin Books
February 26th 2019 (first published September 25th 2009)

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.

TW: Suicide, depression, mental health.

“There are so many things that I want so badly to tell you but I just can’t.”

This is a very hard review for me.

Hold Still is a deeply moving an emotional story about suicide, depression and general mental illness. It is a book about trying to find yourself when everything feels turned upside down. The way the book is written handles these delicate topics with honesty and care. It is also an incredibly real book with real emotions and so undeniably relatable.

The story spans through an entire year, starting from summer. Following the life of Caitlin while she is coming to terms with the death of her best friend Ingrid. Upon discovering Ingrid’s journal, Caitlin soon discovers it is full of her inner thoughts and how she struggles with depression and reality. Hold Still goes on a journey of grief, anger, and acceptance. However, seeing the various stages of grief that Caitlin goes through –  for me – is super emotional and heartbreaking and made me stop several times to take a moment to collect myself.

Although Caitlin is a very closed-off character and not wanting to let people in, seeing her start to reach out to people is so uplifting. Starting to make new friends and eventually learning to accept the death of her best friend, there is a very real emotion that comes from watching a character ‘rise from the dark’.

The amount of depth Hold Still has is without a doubt remarkable. Caitlin is an incredible character. Her character development and the way her relationships grow between friends, parents, and teachers is simply beautiful. There are also so many incredible quotes throughout the story, one of them for me being:

“dear today, 

i spend all of you pretending i’m okay when i’m not, pretending i’m happy when i’m not, pretending about everything to everyone.” 

Another incredible quote:

“It was the moment I realized what music can do to people, how it can make you hurt and feel so good all at once.” 

A personal connection

For me personally, this book resonated strongly since I have been there myself. I could feel myself in the same shoes as Caitlin when it comes to coming to terms with the death of someone. The stages of grief, the feeling of not wanting to do anything, the pure lack of energy. The nothingness. So for me, Hold Still is a book that really struck a deep chord. It felt real.

I urge anyone that has ever dealt with mental health or loss to read this book. Hold Still is by far one of the more emotional inticing books that you will read and will leave you thinking for a long time. Definitely a contemporary book to add to your TBR list.

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