Hold Still by Nina LaCour
October 2009 by Dutton Juvenile
Hardcover, 230 pages
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.
I walk to school as dawn breaks. Im awake and alert, numb and exhausted. I never knew I could be all these things at the same time, but here I am, headed to school, eyelids heavy, breathing in the cold air.
Hold Still focuses on main character Caitlin and her journey through a dark depression over the loss of her best friend Ingrid to suicide. As a reader we only see Ingrid through Caitlin’s memories as she tries to build a new life that doesn’t surround the constant pull of thoughts surrounding Ingrid's death.
With the sorrow comes confusion, most of the time while Caitlin is sad she can’t figure out why Ingrid did this, or why she didn’t see it- the guilt she feels over not helping Ingrid is…heartbreaking…..a few months into the death, Caitlin finds one of Ingrid’s old journals stuffed under her bed. As she begins to read Ingrid’s thoughts and see’s what was inside her mind, Caitlin slowly begins to learn the truth of the deep sadness that plagued Ingrid. Caitlin also realizes that she really didn’t know her friend at all and struggles with moving on, because she places so much of the blame on herself. Getting past the guilt Caitlin has so many questions.....Why? Ingrid’s gone, but is ok to still live and be happy? Is it ok to have a new friend, a boyfriend?
The journey out of grief is a hard one for Caitlin, and I know many readers out there who won’t read books about suicide because of the sadness, but LaCour brings her book full circle and just at the right times, she pulls the reader out of the pain and has us laughing on swings. Her writing is beautiful and sends powerful messages within its simplicity. Although painful to look into the mind of her dead friend, reading Ingrid’s journal ultimately brings healing to Caitlin’s heart.
For all of Ingrid’s flaws, we the readers are still able to see all her beautiful gifts as an artist and photographer through the descriptions Caitlin gives us. Truly sad is that all her gifts died with her. All her potential and talent....gone. My favorite line in the book is Caitlin’s thoughts on a photograph taken by Ingrid………….
"It must be the most peaceful picture in the world. It's the setting of a fairy tale; it's somewhere that can't exist anymore."
Suicide is in one perfect word- devastating- it’s what is left behind for all those who still live. The bittersweet is most of us will move on and find happiness again. The true person who can never overcome is the one who is gone.
This is a beautiful novel, although depression is Caitlin’s struggle, we do get to see her breakthrough which creates hope. The book contains language, sexuality (one scene extremely graphic) drinking, cutting, smoking and suicide. Suitable for mature teens (10th grade and up) and adults.
4/5 – YA, Suicide, Depression and Overcoming
While I was reading this book I happened to be listening to this particular CD, I thought the song and lyrics fit perfectly for the mood of the book.
The Birthday Massacre lyrics - Goodnight lyrics