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Keep Holding On

Keep Holding On
By Susane Colasanti
Viking Juvenile, 2012
Audience: Older Teens

From Goodreads:
A romantic and empowering book about bullying

Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.

I almost skipped this one. I've read a few by Susane Colasanti before, and they weren't super-incredible. I liked them, they just weren't 5-star books, and I had a few on my list that seemed more pressing. I'm glad I read this one anyway. It's her best work so far, I think.

First of all, it was hard for me to understand how this book could be about bullying. For example, look at the cover. Her jeans are ratty-ish, but that could just be the style. It's so... happy looking. Also, how can it be romantic and about bullying at the same time? Well, the author pulled it off. All of it. I understand the cover better now, too. I probably would have picked something different for this one, but her publishers probably wanted it to match her other covers.

As far as the bullying goes, I think she got it right. It was serious enough to make it a problem - a REAL problem - but it didn't go so far that it seemed unbelievable. Susane Colasanti included all of the emotions involved. I especially LOVED how she emphasized that "loser" is contagious. The only thing that she left out was that when the bullied people try and fix the problems that no one else will, they are the ones who get in trouble for standing up for themselves. She did have the part where if you told someone who could help, the bullying got worse for the victim.

Normally, I don't cry when reading books. I don't remember the last book that had that effect on me. If I wouldn't have been reading this in the break room at work, I would have been bawling. It was that good.

The best part of the book was the ending. It made me happy. I don't usually like the idea of sequels, but I want to see what happens next. It wasn't open-ended, and I doubt there would be another book about Noelle, but if the author ever decides to write one, I'll read it on day 1!