Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Reviewed by Noelle: March 11, 2012
Published October 20, 2009: Dutton Books
Goodreads • Buy at Amazon • Buy at Fishpond • Kindle

On the one hand it’s kind of fascinating to think about the infinite possibilities of a person’s inner self. To think of all of their thoughts and emotions, not just the ones they share with you.  To imagine all of the puzzle pieces to their personality in one box instead of just the pieces they put on the table.

On the other hand it can be unsettling and even devastating to realize that someone you thought you knew completely has kept an entire side of themselves a secret.  For Caitlin, this discovery comes after her best friend Ingrid commits suicide.  Caitlin is stunned, heartbroken and desperate to understand.

Caitlin’s entire world was Ingrid.  Her hobbies, her idols and her goals were all built through their friendship.  Without Ingrid, all of those things lose their foundation and leave Caitlin distrusting what they even meant to her in the first place.  

Ingrid leaves behind an illustrated journal for Caitlin and through its entries both Caitlin and the reader get a vivid introduction to both the Ingrid Caitlin knew and the Ingrid that kept herself hidden.  Despite only living through Caitlin's memories and the journal entries, Ingrid has a strong book presence. It is very rough to read Ingrid's loss of hope.  The more Caitlin discovers about Ingrid the more she questions what she actually knows about herself as well.  By the end of the journal Caitlin has several new pieces to the puzzle of Ingrid and she must decide how to put them together and what to do with what she learns.

I love when YA protagonists have serious hobbies and specific interests. When I was in high school I was always busy with some kind of wacky side project and I enjoy reading about other people's extracurricular interests. While Caitlin's photography was interesting to explore, I really liked her adventures in tree-house building. In my imagination, her end result looked something like this:

Photo source
My parents would have had to physically drag me inside if we had had one of those in the yard!

What is so great about Nina LaCour is that she allows her characters just to BE and the result is believable, fulfilling character interactions.  Everyone from Caitlin's parents to Ingrid's crush to the new girl in school feel completely natural and it makes the emotional turmoil they all go through that much more poignant.  Hold Still has a quiet and steady delivery that will settle into your heart piece by piece. 

Rating: 4/5 stars


  1. Wow, this book looks amazing! I've never even heard of this one before.

    I love it when MCs have hobbies too! :)
    I also adore quiet books. Sometimes certain subject matters need to have subtlety.

    Also, TREEHOUSES. Amazing.

    Gorgeous review, Noelle!

    1. Thanks, Jo! :) You're right, I sometimes forget how much I adore a nice quiet book. --N

  2. I only heard about this recently but you have me wanting to read it sooner. I love the idea of discovering Ingrid's secrets via her journal.

    And I LOVE that tree house, I would have wanted to live in it full time too!

  3. This sounds incredibly good. It kind of reminds me of The Sky Is Everywhere, one of my all-time favorite books, so I'd pick it up just because of that.
    And the illustrated journal really is a magnet. I want to see how it was done. :)

    Fabulous review, Noelle.

    1. Thanks Maja! I always love unexpected illustrations/artwork in books. --N

  4. Oh, I think that was my favorite part of Hold Still -- the tree house building. Like, it's such a unique hobby for a YA character.

    'On the one hand it’s kind of fascinating to think about the infinite possibilities of a person’s inner self.' - SOLID opening line, BTW.

    1. Thanks April! I loved that the author gave her something to BUILD too. The tree house was a great idea.


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