Review: Keep Holding On (Colasanti)

AUTHOR: Susane Colasanti
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Viking Juvenile
ISBN: 9780670012251
PAGES: 224
SOURCE: public library Overdrive
GENRE: contemporary, realistic

SUMMARY: Neglected by her single mother and bullied relentlessly at school, high school senior Noelle Wexler cannot wait to graduate in two months. But when handsome Julian starts paying attention to Noelle, she wonders if she is good enough for him.

IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Sweet potatoes with extra marshmallows and butter. The message is good for you, but the story is sweet, filling, and palatable.

WHAT I LIKED: Noelle. She’s real, and many teens will be able to identify with her situation. Her clothes are old and ratty, but she tries her best to look nice anyway. She is constantly hungry, but she tries to put together healthy lunches with what little she has. She keeps her head down and doesn’t ever think she is good enough. She has contemplated suicide many times, but she has never been serious enough to go through it. And sadly, so, so many teens will be able to see themselves in Noelle.

The uplifting message. Hang in there–you are worth it. Reach out for help–it’s out there. Don’t give up. These are important messages that could save lives.

The story is easy to get into and is never dull. I read it in two days.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: The message, while very important, is a bit heavy-handed. It is so obvious that I felt beat over the head with it. The last chapters actually state the “never give up” lesson outright in several paragraphs from Noelle’s point of view. Then there is an author’s note about suicide and fitting in and how hard high school can be. After that is a list of teen outreach hotlines and websites. While I would never want to diminish the importance of the message, it’s a bit much and assumes the reader didn’t get the point already. We did. We hear you loud and clear.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Many teens will relate to this story of bullying and suicide, even if the “never give up” message is a little heavy-handed.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it on our high school shelf. After reading it, I may move it to our Realistic Fiction section.

READALIKES: Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass (Medina); Eleanor & Park (Rowell)


  • Overall: 4/5
  • Creativity: 3/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5


  • Language: very mild; “asshole” occurs once
  • Sexuality: mild-medium; date rape discussion (occurred before book), kissing, talk of going all the way (but it never happens); discussion of periods/tampons
  • Violence: medium; bullying, paintball ambush at bus stop, talk of boys fighting
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none
  • Other issues: parental neglect, suicide, date rape, skipping school
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