Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Posted August 20, 2015 by Inge in Join the Dance // Events, Tags & Challenges, Reviews / 10 Comments

Hold Still by Nina LaCourHold Still by Nina LaCour
on 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 229
Goodreads

In the wake of her best friend Ingrid's suicide, Caitlin is left alone, struggling to find hope and answers. When she finds the journal Ingrid left behind for her, she begins a journey of understanding and broadening her horizons that leads her to new friendships and first love. Nina LaCour brings the changing seasons of Caitlin's first year without Ingrid to life with emotion, honesty, and captivating writing.

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When I read Thirteen Reasons Why and complained about the believability of the story, several people came up to me and said, “Read Hold Still instead”. It took me a few years, but I never forgot about the book recommendation. Finally, here I am, I’ve read the book, and I gladly join the group of people who tell you to read Hold Still instead.

Whereas Thirteen Reasons Why lacked in depth for me, there’s plenty of it in Hold Still. One evening, Caitlin and Ingrid are talking about their futures, and Ingrid says, ”I’ll go wherever you go”. The next day, Ingrid is dead, having committed suicide, and leaves a devastated best friend behind. This is where the book starts, which is a really powerful beginning – it is a true portrayal of raw grief; it is sad and depressing; and it makes you feel as numb as Caitlin does.

The hardest, but also the most interesting, parts were when Caitlin read through Ingrid’s journal entries, and we slowly get a feel of Ingrid’s struggle over the years, of the way she was terrified of losing her mind, of her depression and her hesitation to inform her friend about this. Caitlin was more or less clueless – she knew about the cutting and the depression, to a certain extent. But she didn’t know about the pills, or Ingrid’s raw thoughts that resonated so deeply with me. If only she’d confided in Caitlin, maybe things would have worked out differently. That’s probably the part that hurts the most.

“ You might be looking for reasons but there are no reasons. The sun stopped shining for me is all.”

The first part of the book vividly shows the journey of a teenager as she deals with grief and suicide. Caitlin’s actions feel numb and automatic, she hides and pushes everyone away, she leaves her parents baffled as they try to be there for their hurt daughter. Slowly, though, we see a beginning change in Caitlin. The overall tone of the book is sad, but there’s also that notion that change can be beautiful, and that’s where the beauty of the novel lies.

This isn’t an exciting, eventful tale; there’s not a lot going on. Yet there’s so much happening, although most of it is inside of Caitlin as she learns how to deal with the shock, as she finds her best friend’s journal, as she finds a new friend at school, as she grows closer to the popular boy, as she builds a tree house, as she learns to find comfort in her photography. There is tremendous growth in Caitlin as the story progresses, which is beautiful to behold, until eventually, there is acceptance.

There’s only one point of issue for me, and that’s that I wanted more. I wanted more of Ingrid, more of her journal entries, so I could get inside her head the way I was inside Caitlin’s. Having said that, it still felt incredibly real, and what we got from Ingrid was believable and good.

I’m not an expert on mental health books, but I know this is a good one. It’s poignant, evocative, and illustrious, and does the subject justice. Definitely a story that will linger.

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10 responses to “Hold Still by Nina LaCour

  1. This is one of my all time favorite books! I’m so glad you liked it 🙂 Its heartbreaking but it’s one of those books I feel like it’s worth crying over. I love love love this book.

    • I’ve actually heard nothing but good things about this book, and for good reason too! It’s a really accurate picture of grief and depression and I really appreciated that it didn’t sugarcoat things. It was raw and emotional and real.

  2. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy Thirteen Reasons Why as much – that’s actually one of my favourite books, but I can see that it’s not for everyone! I think I’m going to be picking this up, though; the premise and the way you describe it reminds me a little bit of Speak (by Laurie Halse Anderson), which is one of those books that lodges itself into one’s heart and never quite leaves, so I think it’ll be right up my alley. <3

    • Oh, I was so disappointed in Thirteen Reasons Why. I really liked the premise of the tapes, but I felt like she was blaming everyone but herself and I lost all sympathy for her when she didn’t stop that rape from happening… but I’m not here to take away your enjoyment for a book. I’m glad it worked for you and that you can call it one of your favourites. <3

      I haven't read Speak yet, but I really want to! It sounds so good, and Anderson's books always have such great premises, I really need to pick up one of her books soon. I think you'd really like Hold Still.

  3. Oh wow, this book sounds like it is a beautiful novel in general. Yes, it has such a sad and serious subject matter, but it sounds like this book is all about development and understanding. As understanding dawns on Caitlin we get to see her develop and maybe even take a story of hope from one that seems so dark. It has a lot of promise and even though I have never read Thirteen Reasons Why, I will keep this one in mind.

    • People have been recommending it to me for years, I can’t believe I only just now got to it. Such a poignant and beautiful story. Incredibly sad but also really raw and I kind of loved that.

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