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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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."
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?
What do you think of the book's title? What do you think the author is referring to when she says "Hold Still"?
- Author: Nina LaCour
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: October 20, 2009
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 240
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.