Monday, July 16, 2012

Holding on to Zoe ~ George Ella Lyon (arc) review

Holding on to Zoe
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
July 17, 2012
176 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

When sixteen-year-old Jules gets pregnant, she thinks up a myriad of possible reactions her mother could have when she tells her - denial is not one of them. It doesn't matter, though, because Jules is going to have her baby.

And once she does, the other things don't matter anymore. That her boyfriend has skipped town is irrelevant,  her mother thinking she's doing it all for attention couldn't matter less, work at the Toyota plant while figuring out how to finish school is hard, but it's what Jules has to do for Zoe and their future. But why does her mother still refuse to believe that Zoe's real?

Holding on to Zoe  is not only unlike any other book I've read, it was unlike what I expected it to be. I'm incredibly glad I won a copy from Macmillan Children's on Twitter, I may not have found out about this one as quickly otherwise. I know I wouldn't have read it as quickly!

At the start it is reminiscent of some other books dealing with teen pregnancy: the girl lives with her single mother, her father abandoned them when she was much younger, she feels lonely/alone, she has a boyfriend that promises her things, and then when she's pregnant he's gone.

That's where things diverge with Holding on to Zoe . . . and where it gets difficult to say just how without spoiling the book. At a short - but definitely not too short - 176 pages, things happen quickly in Zoe.  Lyon's also written some poetry and that not only comes through in the writing of Zoe but is, at least part of, what makes the short length work so well.

With Jules carrying for Zoe and her mother denying that Zoe is even there, readers are put in an interesting place. What works so well is that readers do get Zoe's view of everything but also with an outside perspective. Some books work because they keep everyone out of the loop, just letting you in at the last second; this one works because it keeps you so in the loop, instead letting you see the characters and their interactions and workings.

The only thing I could have wanted even a bit more from was one scene towards the end that I think was maybe a bit too quick for me as I'm not sure I quite grasped all of what went on in it. Otherwise, I greatly enjoyed this novel and love that it got brought to my attention!

Rating: 9/10

If you want a chance to win this - or any July YA book - you can enter my July New Release Hop Giveaway

Thank you to Ksenia and @MacKidsBooks for my galley


  1. Holding on to Zoe appears to be a short but chilling read. I shivered a little just looking at the cover. I am EXTREMELY curious with the latter half of the book that doesn't include a stereotypical portrayal of teenage pregnancy. This definitely seems like a book to watch out for!

    1. I really love the cover - it's different from the arc and I'm actually really glad, it represents the book quite well.

      It isn't what I expected at all. That said, I absolutely wouldn't trade what I got for what I was expecting.

      Thanks for the comment


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