Noelle’s life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn’t know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle’s kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she’s terrified. Surely it’s safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the bullying of her classmate takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it’s time to stand up for herself – and for the love that keeps her holding on.

Bullying is a topic I’ve discussed here on Letters Inside Out in the past, many times. It’s something that occurs to all of us (to different depths). In Noelle’s case, it’s to the extreme. Keep Holding On is a book that when I read the synopsis I was going “yes yes yes” and I knew I had to review it. The more exposure bullying gets, the more likely it is to finally find an end.

Colasanti has managed to once again create characters I can’t help but be sympathetic to and, in turn, love. Noelle captured my heart, she’s so used to the bad in life that she just ducks and takes it. But in addition to Noelle, you also get to see other extremes and types of bullying and the various reactions. Like in Simon’s case, he just keeps on doing his thing – forget everyone else.

While romance was an important part of Keep Holding On, I feel like the bigger focus was the bullying in Noelle’s life. For that I can’t help but be even happier about the book.

As always, there was a bit of a complaint though. At one point in particular, I wanted to shout, “Noelle, just stop”. That was when she was complaining that no one helped her and yet when a classmate was being bullied, she didn’t speak up because she knew it’d add to her own bullying. As someone who suffered from bullying…I get it. I get her reasoning and completely understand, but at the same time I can’t help but feel a tiny bit horrified that she didn’t even try to talk to the other student.

Keep Holding On is fast-paced, I finished it in one sitting. It’s also the sort of book I want to put in the hands of everyone. It’s that powerful and needed in the world. I wish it had been written 10 or 11 years ago.

Note: Another highlight of what made this book even more powerful for me was this interview with Susane Colasanti from Publisher’s Weekly.

I received my copy of Keep Holding On from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.