Hold Still

Book review by
Rachel Sarah, Common Sense Media
Hold Still Book Poster Image
Stunning, hopeful story about healing from loss.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows how losing someone to suicide can affect your sense of self-worth. Provides information about social anxiety, photography, journaling, and grieving.


Positive Messages

Empathy and kindness are crucial to healing. Reach out to others when you're in pain. It's challenging to heal after losing someone you love, but if you get support and take the time to heal, you can find the courage to move on.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although Caitlin feels devastated and hopeless, she does find ways to heal and reconnect with people who love her. Her parents are supportive, as are Ingrid's. Her friend Dylan is honest and open with her, and there for her.


Mentions of suicide throughout the story and references to Ingrid cutting herself with the sharp tip of a knife.


Some kissing and making out, such as Caitlin wrapping her "legs around his waist" and kissing Taylor. 


Infrequent swearing: "f-you," "bitch," "s--t," "you suck."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mentions of beer, but no drinking or smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hold Still, the first novel written by Nina LaCour, winner of the 2018 Michael L. Printz Award for the young adult novel We Are Okay, is a heartbreaking, engrossing, and inspiring story about 16 year-old Caitlin, who recently lost her best friend to suicide. When she returns to school, she feels very hurt and confused, and her photography class, once a safe place, now makes her feel lonely. There are mentions of suicide, serious depression, and cutting. There are also themes of grieving and moving on. There are some tender scenes of teens kissing. Strong language isn't frequent but includes "f-you," "bitch," "s--t," "you suck."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJulie H. November 13, 2020

Mature Audience but powerful message

While this novel does contain some very mature content at times, the overall message is very empowering for anyone who is learning to overcome the loss of a bes... Continue reading
Adult Written byChoose a password May 25, 2019


This book is a never ending novel on sadness. I regretfully inform others tgat its a depressant and you need to be aware of that. There are parts where she rubs... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byBodhiDW February 19, 2021

very well written

this book made me cry at so many times and it is so well written. it goes through stages of grief and has amazing character development. i really recommend this... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byHRM1104 July 16, 2018

What's the story?

In HOLD STILL, 16-year-old Caitlin recently lost her best friend Ingrid to suicide. She's numb and shut down, unable to talk to anyone, including her concerned parents. She's supposed to go back to school in the fall, but it's so painful without Ingrid. Even worse, her favorite teacher ignores her in photography class. Determined to find out why Ingrid took her own life, Caitlin starts to read her friend’s journal, and she uncovers dark memories as well as uplifting ones. The story's also interspersed with beautiful illustrations and journal entries. As family and new friends support her, Caitlin finds love again and heals. 

Is it any good?

Heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting, this poignant novel captures the depth and reality of losing a friend to suicide. Hold Still is a vivid, emotional story told in incredibly poetic haunting language. "Something is smashing my chest -- an anchor, gravity," Caitlin says at the beginning of the book. "Soon I'll cave in on myself." Even though the subject matter is heavy, author Nina LaCour brings to the page what it's like to experience the depths of depression and also how to grieve and move on. Readers will feel both the loss of a friend and the strength of being able to live your life again. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the depression described in Hold Still. Have you ever experienced depression? Whom did you turn to? What ways can you get support if you or someone you know is experiencing depression?

  • Do you think art helps people heal when coping with a loss? What ways do you take care of yourself when you're grieving? Whom can you turn to? What help is out there?

  • What do you think of the book's title? What do you think the author is referring to when she says "Hold Still"?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age tales and grief stories

Themes & Topics

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