Hold Still by Nina LaCour

6373717Title: Hold Still
Author: Nina LaCour
Pages: 230
Year: 2009
Publisher: Dutton Books (Penguin)
Time taken to read: 1 week
Rating: 3/5

Goodreads synopsisdear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t. 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.

So, my grandmother who lives in Florida calls me on Facetime almost every day, and she told me last week that she wants me to update her on the plots of all the books I read because she wants to read but she doesn’t have the patience for it. So she asked me to tell her what was going on in the book I was currently reading, and I just couldn’t bear to tell her it was about a suicide, so I said it was about a girl whose friend died in a car crash. My poor grandma thought even that was too depressing, so I guess I’ll have to find some happier books to read.

I didn’t have much to tell her about the book, actually, because I honestly found it to be pretty boring. The characters felt flat and forced, and I felt like I never really got to know them. Caitlin’s whole thing with Taylor felt so fake. I didn’t understand where he came from or why Caitlin liked him, or why he liked Caitlin. I think Jayson was probably my favorite character, because his relationship with Ingrid was actually pretty complex. I can imagine that he felt really responsible, even though he didn’t do anything wrong, so I felt the most for him. (How many times can I use the word “felt” in one paragraph?)

As I’ve said before, I love books where a central character is dead before the book even starts, but it didn’t work here. I don’t feel like we got to know Ingrid at all. Her voice wasn’t strong enough in the diary entries, and the only other thing we know about her is that she was good at photography. I didn’t feel for her, or any of the characters for that matter. I think the book would have benefitted from a greater number of diary entries. Those were my favorite parts, especially the entry about how Ingrid lost her virginity. I also really liked Caitlin’s description of the night before Ingrid killed herself. Those were the only parts that had any real meaning for me, that actually came alive and made me feel something.

I’m giving this 3 out of 5 stars instead of 2 out of 5 basically because the actual writing was good. LaCour has the technical skills to put together a good book, and the idea was decent. She just needs more intensity, more heart, more feeling. I believe this is her first book, though, so I will be reading more of her books to see if there is any improvement.

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