Keep Holding On was the first book I picked up for the 48 HBC. Not because it was the one I wanted to read the most (I didn’t even get to that one sadly…it was Swamplandia!) I chose it because it looked like a light YA read and I was quite tired after a busy day at work.
As I started reading, I realized that the book was better than I thought it would be. It was well-written, and best of all, it actually had something to say. For the book’s main character, Noelle, high school is a constant source of dread. There are many people who like to look down on her because of her clothes or bully her because she’s poor. She tries to put up with this daily abuse, but after a while it gets to her.
In my opinion, for Noelle, the challenge becomes following that old serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
(couldn’t remember that one myself. Thanks, wikipedia).
There are certain things in Noelle’s life that she does have control over: her actions, her reactions, and her general attitude about life. Other things, unfortunately, she has little say about: her mother’s unwillingness to take care of her, her best friend’s relationship problems, and the taunts she must endure at school.
This book accurately describes the bully culture and what can happen if it goes too far. On the brighter side, it also shows that everyone has at least some control over how they are treated. Noelle’s story is so inspirational and realistic that it comes as no surprise that the author herself was bullied in high school and learned to overcome it.