Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Genre: Contemporary, Mental Health
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4 stars (Goodreads)
Summary: An arresting story about starting over after a friend’s suicide, from a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t.
Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid–and Caitlin herself.
Trigger Warning for discussing suicide and depression.
“You might be looking for reasons but there are no reasons. The sun stopped shining for me is all. The whole story is: I’m sad. I’m sad all the time and the sadness is so heavy that I can’t get away from it.”
As a person suffering from depression myself, i could never bring better words for a major depression episode. The thing is, it doesn’t always stay like that. At first I thought the book was called HOLD ON, as in, stay, be brave, things will get better, but the title is Hold Still, because of the photos i guess, or because you need to really look at something to completely understand it. This book is full of ache, heartache for a person who decided to leave it all and committ suicide and it does it extremely well.
This is the story of Caitlin, seeing for the first time a side of her best friend she completely missed when Ingrid, the friend, was still alive. Caitlin finds Ingrid’s personal journal behind her bed one day and she starts reading it, day by day, entry by entry and she gets to know more about Ingrid’s personal life.
As this all is happening Caitlin has to come back to school where everyone knows she was friends with Ingrid, and now she has trouble dealing with others, because she was left so hurt by Ingrid’s decision.
The story is raw, as Caitlin tries to see Ingrid in a new light, she becomes friends with Dylan, the new girl at school, but she struggles with the friendship because she feels like she might move on from her deceased friend. But, as she reads the entries on Ingrid’s journal i think it helps her not only see her friend, but herself. She is able to go through the different stages of grief while reading the journal.
I don’t know if the writer lost someone to suicide but the book manages to bring all the right feelings.
Personally i lost a friend a few years ago. I never knew why she did what she did, i cannot understand it to this day, and it haunts me. But this book helped me a little to bring up all those feelings again, because i need to deal with them. And yeah, maybe she had her reasons, or maybe there wasn’t a specific reason.
The fact that Ingrid decided to share her personal thoughts with her best friend, leaving her journal behind, as a way of helping understand what happened, feels a very personal way of asking for forgiveness for what she was about to do.
I can only say, this book moved me in a way very little books did. I don’t usually read about suicides, i see myself as a very emotional person, but i didn’t cry with this book, on the contrary it made me stronger. It made me understand so many things, about life, about the people left behind, about grief.
I think Nina LaCour nails the feelings of the people left behind, of the best friend who thought knew their BFF.
I don’t think there’s a need to talk much about the characters on the book, they feel very real, as the pain the MC is feeling.
Also, you can see how the author was still looking for that voice she has perfected over the years, the prose in this book isn’t as smooth as in later books but it is beautiful nontheless.
I feel like there’s a part i wanna talk about. It has Spoilers though so, you can stop reading here if you don’t wanna be spoiled and jump to the last part after i say the spoilers are over.
Before i talk about the spoilery part i’ll say i gave this book 5 stars.
And Now To The Spoilers
I felt that Caitlin had no right to share the personal thoughts of Ingrid as she does at the end of the book. I know it helps give closure to many characters in the book, like the boy Ingrid liked, her parents, Caitlin’s parents, their favorite teacher… but a personal journal is personal and i feel like it was only meant for Caitlin. So yeah, it left me a bit mad at the main character. I think these kind of things are too personal to share with everyone, even with people who didn’t knew Ingrid. To me it disrespects her memory.
END OF SPOILERS
This is a poweful book, full of hope and memory. I don’t think i will be forgetting about this book anytime soon.
Life is hard, and you can see it on the book, it was hard for Ingrid, it was hard for Caitlin when Ingrid passed away, but life goes on, and we all need to find a way to keep on going.
I would like to thank the author for such a wonderful book, thanks for helping me heal a little for a wound i’ve had for such a long time.
I know the topic of the book is a difficult one, but i encourage everyone willing to make the effort to read it. It won’t disappoint.
Have you read the book? If so what did you think about it? Leave your comment down below!