Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Just Stay Strong, Cause You'll Make It Through

Expected Publication: May 31st, 2011
Keep Holding On
By: Susane Colasanti
Viking Juvenile
ISBN-13: 9780670012251

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.


   Noelle has a horrible living situation.  Her Mother has basically gone into a mode of full-scale neglect, leaving Noelle to fend for herself when it comes to being clothed and fed.  There is never any food in the house and when Noelle bothered to dream about college (working at a crappy job to save toward it) her Mother wiped out her life savings to pay bills because Noelle 'owed' her.  At school she is bullied mercilessly because of her shabby appearance and pitiful lunches, when all the other kids come from rich families and privileged upbringings.  She eats in the bathroom to avoid Warner, her main tormenter, only to be sidelined by Carly who makes verbal and physical threats to Noelle's safety.  Then Simon Bruckner invites her to join the literary magazine and gives her a safe haven.  Her boyfriend Matt refuses to acknowledge her in public and only wants to use her for physical satisfaction.  Her best friend Sherae is basically the only good thing in her life, keeping her sane and alive.  Then Noelle breaks it off with Matt and is attacked by girls at the bus stop with paintball guns.  At first she refuses to allow nice guy Julian into her world because of her past hurts.  But once she does, Noelle begins to realize that no one deserves the sort of treatment she's been getting.  And maybe it's time to stand up against the bullies and pull the shades from her Mother's eyes.  Then something horrible and devastating happens to someone Noelle knows.  Will Noelle's life actually change at all?  This book ripped me to shreds, probably because it was so personal to me.  I was a victim of bullying from 1st grade, until the 9th grade.  Like Noelle I coped with being the poor kid in a rich school, with everyone teasing me mercilessly because of my unfashionable clothing and reduced price lunches.  I was an individual and that made me a target as well.  Colasanti really grabs you where you live and makes you realize that even if you pretend not to see it, things like this happen every minute of every day.  To someone a comment about there clothes hair or personality could actually be the difference between life and death.  Noelle was an extremely strong heroine.  It takes serious courage to stand up and not let yourself be bullied anymore.  I loved that she had a true friend in Sherae and that she eventually began to realize her self-worth.  My only complaint would be that for as horrifically realistic as the bullying is, the resolution is seriously unrealistic and overly neat.  Things do not change that much, that fast in real life.  And at times it got a little after-school specialy.   Overall it was a very well written, heartbreakingly true book.  I highly recommend it. 

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is May 31st, 2012.*

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