October 20, 2009
(paperback out October 5, 2010-w/ a gorgeous cover)
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After her best friend Ingrid commits suicide, Caitlin isn't sure how life can go on. Refusing to go to therapy and feeling alone in the world now, Hold Still follows Caitlin as she begins trudging her way through the world.
After finding Ingrid's journal, a tale not only of Ingrid's descent but also something that might just help Caitilin, meeting someone who could be a new friend, and discovering that she can talk to people--that they're also grieving Ingrid's death (maybe not in the same way, but in some way), Caitlin beings to heal.
Hold Still is a beautifully written book told using a narrative that follows Caitilin through her struggle to recover and find a new life and with journal entries (sometimes in the form of letters) and drawings from Ingrid. From the very first page I felt a connection to Caitlin and the pain she was in. A part of this might have been that I read this very soon (within a month or so) of a friend of mine dying, but I also believe it was a testament to Nina LaCour's strong talent. My friend did not die from suicide but I was still very much able to understand what Caitlin was going through and her need for a 'why.' I can only imagine that understanding/connection would be even stronger for someone who has lost someone to suicide.
That the reader can identify with both Ingrid and Caitlin's pain in Hold Still and understand where both characters are coming from says a lot about what a strongly written book it is--and how painful it can be to read. LaCour's book really shows the lasting pain felt by those that are 'left behind' when someone takes their own life. It's told over the course of about a year so it's not a quick fix, nor does it leave the characters hanging, it truly moves Caitlin through the process of her best friend suddenly dying and also gradually lets the reader know why/how Ingrid was so depressed that she did commit suicide.
(I didn't review this sooner because I really wanted to include this quote--it's from pg. 185 so if you want to skip it you can--but I think it's both beautiful and shows Ingrid's depression: "...But now not even the laughing feels good." I think the quote (and the rest of the sentence/few around it, really encapsulate Ingrid's pain so, so well that you can truly feel it right there. [I had to get the book from the library and then find the quote--and I was a slowpoke.])
It's a book that support/counseling groups should, I believe, consider using because there's not one bit of it that seems to blame anyone for anything. It's not flowery by any means and it's not an after school special but it's real and it's painful and it's true.
I sincerely hope Nina LaCour writes another book because this one was gorgeous (and not just aesthetically).