hold still

by Nina LaCour

Brief Summary: When Ingrid committed suicide, she left Caitlin – her best friend – many things: An aching hole that seems impossible to fill; empty promises of the future; the inability to connect with photography, Caitlin’s shared passion with Ingrid; and her – Ingrid’s – journal, with a bird painted in White-Out on the front. From these pieces, Caitlin must try to reassemble her world and her place in it.

Kell’s Chatty Review: This book was 100% heart-wrenching. LaCour puts an amazing amount of depth into her characters and the scenes built around them. Caitlin’s journey is filled with so many ups and downs that I literally had to stop halfway through and compose myself a bit. Wonderfully, beautifully written.

Caitlin: is our narrator and because we only understand what Caitlin understands, the beginning was confusing and a little lost, but as Caitlin became more coherent, so did her surroundings. Also, even though we saw everything through Caitlin’s eyes, all the other characters are so well-written in the glimpses Caitlin gives us that it really made her journey seem both isolated and surrounded all at once.

The material: is not at all easy to get through. Like I said before, just when you think Caitlin (and yourself) is starting to get onto solid ground, a huge wave of something knocks her back down (and you with her). But you really, really cheer for her and celebrate the good things – no matter how small they may be – that do happen throughout the year amongst all the bad.

My favorite thing: about this novel was how tenderly the friendship of Caitlin and Dylan was handled. I think it would have been easy to fill the open slot of “new best friend” (and if I’m being honest, I was a little concerned it would sway this way when Dylan appeared so suddenly) to have heart-to-hearts with throughout the book, but that’s not how LaCour took it and I think that control made the book really shine.

Quick Note About the Author: I link to every author’s website as a habit – I adore exploring the creativity that usually exists in author’s websites and like to share that with people. I feel I must say that LaCour’s is brilliant and happy and wonderful. And after just going through the emotional wringer with her fantastic first novel, the yellow website and blue typewriter were just smile-inducing. So stop over there!

What I most wanted to do after reading this book: Gather everyone I know in a big, giant hug. And call my best friend.

What life lesson I learned from this book: Sigh. This is such a hard thing to answer when you read books like this because everything seems so cliche or cheesy. So I’m just going to go with this: appreciate life.

Where this book came from: This book is an ARC and I’m 95% sure I got it from ALA annual last year. There’s a small (5%) chance it came from last year’s midwinter, but I doubt it.

Spoiler note: Did my heart break a bit when that theater was destroyed. Yes. Yes it did. (Even when all these other emotions were brewing from the actual undercurrents of the plot, in the back of my head I kept thinking about the poor, beautiful, neglected, red velvet seats. Sigh. Once a theatre nerd, always a theatre nerd.)


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