A beautiful new edition of the stunning debut novel by Nina LaCour, award-winning author of We Are Okay
“Hold Still may be the truest depiction of the aching, gaping hole left in the wake of a suicide that I’ve ever read. A haunting and hopeful book about loss, love, and redemption.” – Gayle Forman, #1 bestselling author of If I Stay and I Have Lost My Way
That night Ingrid told Caitlin, I’ll go wherever you go. But by dawn Ingrid, and her promise, were gone.
Ingrid’s suicide immobilizes Caitlin, leaving her unsure of her place in a new life she hardly recognizes. A life without the art, the laughter, the music, and the joy that she shared with her best friend.... But Ingrid left something behind. In words and drawings, Ingrid documented a painful farewell in her journal. Journeying through Ingrid’s final days, Caitlin fights back through unspeakable loss to find renewed hope.
Hold Still is the indelible debut that launched Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of We Are Okay. LaCour’s breakthrough novel brings the changing seasons of Caitlin’s first year without Ingrid to the page with indelible emotion and honesty.
Includes an all-new essay from the author to commemorate 10 years in print!
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
Nina LaCour (www.ninalacour.com) is the author of the award-winning Hold Still and widely acclaimed The Disenchantments. Formerly a bookseller and high school English teacher, she now writes and parents full time. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Nina lives with her family in Oakland, California.
Read an Excerpt
Her best friend is gone . . .but she left something behind.
I get down on the carpet to look under my bed. I stick my arm under and feel around, find a couple mismatched socks, and something I don’t recognize—hard and flat and dusty. I pull it out, thinking maybe it’s a yearbook from elementary school, and then I see it and my heart stops.
For some reason, I feel afraid. It’s like I’m split down the middle and one half of me wants to open it more than I’ve ever wanted to do anything. The other half is so scared. I can’t stop shaking.
Did it get kicked under the bed one night by accident?
Did she hide it?
I stare at it in my hands forever, just feeling its weight, looking at the place where one Wite-Out wing is starting to flake off. Then, once my hands are steadied, I open to the first page. It’s a drawing of her face—yellow hair; blue eyes; small, crooked smile. She’s looking straight ahead. Birds fly across the background. She drew them blurry, to show movement, and across the top she wrote, Me on a Sunday Morning.
I turn the page.
As I read, I can hear Ingrid’s voice, hushed and fast, like she’s telling me secrets.
OTHER BOOKS YOU MAY ENJOY
After Amy Efaw
Because I Am Furniture Thalia Chaltas
The Disenchantments Nina LaCour
Everything Leads to You Nina LaCour
If I Stay Gayle Forman
Just Listen Sarah Dessen
Looking for Alaska John Green
Paper Towns John Green
The Truth About Forever Sarah Dessen
Where She Went Gayle Forman
Willow Julia Hoban
Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson
Table of Contents
Her best friend is gone . . .but she left something behind
Other Books You May Enjoy
Questions for Discussion
Behind the Music
An excerpt from Everything Leads to You
PUBLISHEDBY THE PENGUIN GROUP Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
This book is a work of fiction.
Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Mia Nolting
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
CIP Data is available.
Published in the United States by Dutton Books,
for my family and for Kristyn
I watch drops of water fall from the ends of my hair. They streak down my towel, puddle on the sofa cushion. My heart pounds so hard I can feel it in my ears.
Mom says Ingrid’s name and I start to hum, not the melody to a song, just one drawn-out note. I know it makes me seem crazy, I know it won’t make anything change, but it’s better than crying, it’s better than screaming, it’s better than listening to what they’re telling me.
Something is smashing my chest—an anchor, gravity. Soon I’ll cave in on myself. I stumble upstairs and yank on the jeans and tank top I wore yesterday. Then I’m out the door, up the street, around the corner to the bus stop. Dad calls my name but I don’t shout back. Instead, I step onto the bus just as its doors are shutting. I find a seat in the back and ride away, through Los Cerros and through the next town, until I’m on an unfamiliar street, and that’s where I get off. I sit on the bench at the bus stop, try to slow my breathing. The light here is different, bluer. A smiling mom with a baby in a stroller glides past me. A tree branch moves in the breeze. I try to be as light as air.
But my hands are wild, they need to move, so I pick at a piece of the bench where the wood is splintering. I break a short nail on my right hand even shorter, but I manage to pull off a small piece of wood. I drop it into my cupped palm and pry off another.
All last night, I listened to a recording of my voice reciting biology facts on repeat. It plays back in my head now, a sound track for catastrophe, and drowns everything out. If a brown-eyed man and a brown-eyed woman have a child, the child will probably have brown eyes. But if both the father and the mother have a gene for blue eyes, it’s possible that their child could have blue eyes.
An old guy in a snowflake cardigan sits next to me. My hand is now half full of wooden strips. I feel him watching but I can’t stop. I want to say, What are you staring at? It’s hot, it’s June, and you’re wearing a Christmas sweater.
“Do you need help, darling?” the old guy asks. His mustache is wispy and white.
Without looking from the bench, I shake my head. No.
He takes a cell phone from his pocket. “Would you like to use my phone?”
My heart beats off rhythm and it makes me cough.
“May I call your mother?”
Ingrid has blond hair. She has blue eyes, which means that even though her father’s eyes are brown, he must have a recessive blue-eye gene.
A bus nears. The old guy stands, wavers.
“Darling,” he says.
He lifts his hand as if he’s going to pat my shoulder, but changes his mind.
My left hand is all the way full of wood now, and it’s starting to spill over. I am not a darling. I am a girl ready to explode into nothing.
The old guy backs away, boards the bus, vanishes from sight.
The cars pass in front of me. One blur of color after another. Sometimes they stop at the light or for someone to cross the street, but they always go away eventually. I think I’ll live here, stay like this forever, pick away at the bench until it’s a pile of splinters on the sidewalk. Forget what it feels like to care about anyone.
A bus rolls up but I wave it past. A few minutes later, two little girls peer at me from the backseat of a blue car—one is blond and fair; one is brunette, darker. Colored barrettes decorate their hair. It isn’t impossible that they’re sisters, but it’s unlikely. Their heads tilt to see me better. They stare hard. When the light changes to green, they reach their small hands out the rolled-down window and wave so hard and fast that it looks like birds have bloomed from their wrists.
Sometime later, my dad pulls up. He leans to the passenger side and pushes the door open. The smell of leather. Thin, cold, air-conditioned air. I climb in. Let him take me home.
I sleep through the next day. Each time I go to the bathroom, I try not to look in the mirror. Once, I catch my reflection: it looks like I’ve been punched in both eyes.
I can’t talk about the day that follows that.
We wind up Highway 1 at a crawl because Dad is a cautious driver and he’s terrified of heights. Below us to one side are rocks and ocean; to the other, dense trees and signs welcoming us to towns with populations of eighty-four. Mom has brought her entire classical CD collection, and now we’re on Beethoven. It’s “Für Elise,” which she always plays on her piano. Fingers dance softly across her lap.
On the outskirts of a small town, we pull off the road to eat lunch. We sit on an old quilt. Mom and Dad look at me and I look at the worn fabric, the hand-sewn stitches.
“There are things you should know,” Mom says.
I listen for the cars passing by, and the waves, and the crinkling of paper sandwich wrappers. Still, some of their words make it through: clinically depressed; medication; since she was nine years old. The ocean is far below us, but the waves crash so loudly, sound close enough to drown us.
“Caitlin?” Dad says.
Mom touches my knee. “Sweetheart?” she asks. “Are you listening?”
At night, we stay in a cabin with bunk beds and walls made of tree trunks split open. I brush my teeth with my back to the mirror, climb up the ladder to the top bunk, and pretend to fall asleep. My parents creak through the cabin, turning on and off the faucet, flushing the toilet, unzipping their duffel bags. I pull my legs to my chest, try to inhabit as little space as possible.
The room goes dark.
I open my eyes to the tree-trunk wall. Once I learned that trees grow from the inside out. A circle of wood for each year. I count them with my fingers.
“This will be good for her,” Dad says softly.
“I hope so.”
“At least it will get her away from home. It’s quiet here.”
Mom whispers, “She’s hardly spoken for days.”
I hold still and stop counting. I wait to hear more, but minutes pass, and then the whistle of Dad’s snore begins, followed by Mom’s even breaths.
My hands lose track of the years. It’s too dark to start over.
At three or four in the morning, I jolt awake. I fix my eyes to constellations that have been painted on the ceiling. I try not to blink for too long because when I do I see Ingrid’s face, eyes shut and lips still. I mouth biology facts to keep my head clear. There are two stages of meiosis and then four daughter cells are produced, I whisper almost silently, careful not to wake my parents up. Each of the daughter cells has half the chromosomes of the parent cells. Outside, a car passes. Light sweeps over the ceiling, across the stars. I repeat the facts until all the words cram together.
Twostagesofmeiosisandthenfourdaughtercellsareproducedeachdaughtercellhashalf thechromosomesof theparentcellstwostagesofmeiosis . . .
Pretty soon I start to smile. It sounds funnier and funnier each time I say it. And then I have to grab my pillow and bury my face so my parents don’t wake to the sound of me laughing myself to sleep.
On a hot morning in July, Dad rents a car because he has to go back to work. But Mom and I stay in Northern California like it’s the only place we’ve heard of. I sit in front and navigate, keeping us within the invisible boundaries on the map—no farther north than a few miles into Oregon, no farther south than Chico. We spend the summer wandering through caves and forests, surviving crooked roads, and eating grilled-cheese sandwiches at roadside restaurants. We only talk about the things right in front of us—the redwoods, the waitresses, the strength of our iced teas. One night, we discover a tiny old movie theater in the middle of nowhere. We see a children’s movie because it’s the only thing playing, and pay more attention to the kids laughing and yelling than we do to the screen. Twice, we strap flashlights to our heads and grope through lava caves in Lassen National Park. Mom trips and shrieks. Her voice echoes forever. I start dreaming about the cardigan man. In the middle of the forest, he drifts toward me in a tux with a red bow tie. Darling, he says, and holds out his phone. I know Ingrid’s on the other end, waiting for me to talk to her. As I reach for it, I notice—surrounding me are green trees, brown earth, but I am in black-and-white.
In the mornings, Mom lets me drink coffee and says, “Honey, you’re pale.”
And then, out of nowhere, September comes.
We have to go back.
It is 3 A.M. Not the most logical time to take a photograph without lights or a flash or high-speed film, but here I am anyway, perched on the hood of the boxy gray car I should be able to drive by now, camera tilted to the sky, hoping to catch the moon before a cloud moves across it. I snap frame after frame at slow shutter speeds until the moon is gone and the sky is black.
My car creaks as I slide off, moans when I open the door and climb into the back. I push down the lock and curl up across the cloth seats.
I have five hours to get okay.
Fifteen minutes go by. I’m pulling the fake fur from the front seat covers even though I love them. I can’t stop my fingers; white tufts are falling everywhere.
By four-thirty I’ve thrown several thrashing fits, given myself a headache, put my fist in my mouth and screamed. I need to get the pressure out of my body somehow so I can finally fall asleep.
In the house, my bedroom light clicks on. Then the light in the kitchen. The door swings open and my mom appears, clutching the collar of her robe. I reach between the seats and over to my flashers, click them twice, watch her shuffle back inside. I have one frame left, so through the windshield I take a picture of the dark house with its two lit-up rooms. I’ll title it: My House at 5:23 a.m. Maybe I’ll look at it one day when my head isn’t pounding and try to make sense of why, for every night since I got home, I’ve locked myself in a cold car just a few steps outside my warm house, where my parents are so worried they can’t sleep, either.
Sometime around six I start dreaming.
My dad wakes me with his knuckles tapping my window. I open my eyes to the morning light. He’s in his suit already. “Looks like there’s been a blizzard in here,” he says.
The backs of the seat covers are furless. My hand aches.
I walk the long way to school, my new schedule folded into the smallest square and stuffed deep in my pocket. I pass the strip mall; the Safeway and its sprawling parking lot; the lot of land for sale where the bowling alley was before the town decided bowling wasn’t important, and leveled it. On a Friday night two years ago, I darted onto one of the lanes and took a picture of Ingrid sending a heavy red ball toward me. It rushed between my feet as I stood there, one foot in each gutter. The owner yelled at us and kicked us out but later on forgave us. I have the photograph on my closet door: a blur of red, Ingrid’s eyes fierce and determined. Behind her: lights, strangers, rows of bowling shoes.
I stop at a corner to read the headlines through the glass of a newspaper box. Something must be going on in the world: floods, medical breakthroughs, war? But this morning, like most mornings, all the Los Cerros Tribune has to offer me is local politics and hot weather.
As soon as I can, I get away from the street because I don’t want anyone to see me and pull over to offer a ride. They would probably want to talk about Ingrid and I would just stare at my hands like an idiot. Or they wouldn’t want to talk about Ingrid and instead there would be a long silence that would get heavier and heavier.
On the trail between the condos comes the sound of wheels on gravel, and then Taylor Riley is next to me on his skateboard, looking so much taller than before. He doesn’t say anything. I watch my shoes kick up dirt. He rolls past me, then waits for me to catch up. He does this over and over, saying nothing, not even looking at me.
His hair is sun-bleached and his skin is tanned and freckled. He could play a version himself on a sitcom—the most popular boy in school, oblivious to his own perfection. His TV self would trade his skateboard for a football jacket. Instead of sitting around looking bored, he would win trophies. He’d be driving to school in some expensive car with a smiling homecoming queen in the passenger seat, not following a narrow dirt path alongside a quiet, sullen girl.
The path ends and spills us out onto the sidewalk. A block away, everyone is pulling into the high school parking lot. I want to turn and run back home.
“Hey, sorry about Ingrid,” Taylor says.
Automatically, I say, “Thanks.”
Car after car passes us and turns into the parking lot. All the girls are squealing and hugging as if it’s been years since they’ve laid eyes on one another. The guys are slamming their hands down on one another’s backs, which I guess is supposed to mean something nice. I try not to look at them. Taylor and I face each other, each of us looking at his skateboard standing still on the ground. A car door slams. Footsteps. Alicia McIntosh collides into me with her arms open.
“Caitlin,” she whispers.
Her perfume is strong and flowery. I try not to choke.
She takes a step back, holds me by the elbows. She’s wearing tight jeans and a yellow tank top with queen written in blue sequins across her chest. Her red hair skims the tops of her shoulders.
“You are so strong,” she says, “to come back to school. If I were you I would be . . . I don’t know. I’d still be hiding in bed, I guess, with the blankets pulled up over my head.”
She stares at me with a look that’s supposed to be meaningful. Her big green eyes stretch even bigger. In my one semester of drama, the teacher taught us that if a person keeps her eyes open long enough, she’ll start to cry. I wonder if Alicia has forgotten that we were in the same class. She keeps squeezing my elbows and finally a small tear trickles over her freckles.
Alicia, I want to say. Someday you will win an Oscar.
Instead I say, “Thanks.”
She nods, wrinkling her forehead and squeezing out one last tear.
Her focus snaps away from me to something in the distance. Her crew is walking toward us. They’re all wearing different versions of the same tank top. They say, PRINCESS, ANGEL, and SPOILED. I guess Alicia is the leader this year. I should feel lucky that her hands are cutting off my circulation.
“I’m going to make you late to class. But please remember. If you ever need anything, you can call me. I know we haven’t hung out in a while, but we used to be really good friends. I’m here for you. Day or night.”
I can’t imagine ever being Alicia’s friend. Not because we’re so different now, but because it’s impossible to think of a time before high school. Before photography and finals and the pressure of college. Before Ingrid. I remember Alicia as a little kid, hands on her hips in the sandbox, informing all the other kids that she was the only unicorn. And I remember a girl with brown braided hair and pastel corduroys galloping on the blacktop imagining she was a horse, and I know that girl was me, but it feels distant, like someone else’s memory.
Now she gives my elbows one last squeeze and sets me free.
“Taylor,” she says. “Are you coming?”
“Yeah, just a minute.”
“We’re going to be late.”
She rolls her eyes. Her friends arrive and she leads them toward the English hall.
Taylor clears his throat. He glances at me, then back to his skateboard. “So I hope you don’t think this is a rude question or anything, but how did she do it?”
My knees buckle. I think, If a brown-eyed man and a brown-eyed woman have a child, the child will probably have brown eyes. The main entrance is ahead of us, the soccer field to the left. I stick my hand in my pocket and touch my schedule. Like the last two years, I have photography first period. I will my legs to work again and, miraculously, they do. I step onto the grass, away from Taylor, and mumble, “I have to go.” I picture Ms. Delani waiting for me, rising from her chair when I walk into the classroom, pushing past the other students until she gets to me. When I imagine her touching my arm, I am flooded with relief.
I haven’t talked to Ms. Delani since everything happened. Maybe she’ll excuse herself from the rest of the class and lead me to her back office, where we’ll sit together and talk about how fucked life is. She won’t ask if I’m okay because she’ll already know that for us Are you okay? is an impossible question. She’ll spend the period talking to the class about how sad this year is going to be. In honor of Ingrid, the first project will be about loss and everyone will know, even before I turn in my photograph, that mine will be the most heartbreaking.
I filter through the door with the rest of the kids. The classroom is brighter than I remember, and colder. Ms. Delani stands at her desk, looking as perfect and beautiful as she must every day, in crisply ironed slacks and a black sleeveless sweater. Ingrid and I used to try to picture her doing real-people stuff, like taking the garbage out and shaving her armpits. We called her by her first name whenever we were alone. Imagine Veena, Ingrid would say, in sweatpants and a ratty T-shirt, getting up at one o’clock in the afternoon with a hangover. I would try to picture it, but it was useless; instead I saw her in silk pajamas, drinking espresso in a sunny kitchen.
A few kids are already scattered around the classroom. Ms. Delani glances toward the door as I walk in, then away, quickly, like a flash went off so brightly it hurt. I wait in the doorway for a second to give her a chance to look again, but she doesn’t move. Maybe she’s waiting for me to go up to her? People start gathering behind me, so I take a few steps toward her and pause by the shelves of art books in the front, trying to figure out what to do.
There’s no way she hasn’t seen me.
Everyone’s streaming in around me, and Ms. Delani is saying hi and smiling and ignoring me standing just a few feet from her. I have no idea what’s happening, but being surrounded by everyone feels a little like drowning, so I walk right in front of her and hover there.
“Hi,” I say.
She glances at me through the red-rimmed glasses that frame her dark eyes.
But she sounds so absent, like I’m someone she vaguely knows.
I stumble to the table where I sat last year, open my notebook, and act like I’m reading something really interesting. Maybe she’s waiting until everyone sits down and class officially starts before she says anything about Ingrid. The last people come in and I pretend not to notice that the seat next to me, Ingrid’s old seat, stays empty.
The bell rings.
Ms. Delani scans the class. I wait for her to look over here, to smile or nod or anything, but it seems like the room ends just to the right of me. She smiles at everybody else, but I, apparently, do not exist. It’s obvious she doesn’t want me here, and I have no idea what to do. I would get my stuff together and leave, but I’d have nowhere to go. I want to crawl under the table and hide there until everyone is gone.
The walls are covered with our final projects from last year. Ingrid is the only one who got three of her pictures up. They’re all next to one another, in the front of the classroom, right in the center. One is a landscape—two slopes, covered in rocks and thorny bushes, with a creek running crookedly through them. One is a still life of a cracked vase. And one is of me. The lighting is really intense and I’m making a strange expression, like a grimace. I’m not looking at the camera. In the darkroom, when Ingrid made a print of it for the first time, we stood back and watched the image of me appear on the wet paper, and Ingrid said, This is so you, it’s so you. And I said, Oh God, it is, even though I hardly recognized myself. I watched shadows form beneath my eyes, an unfamiliar curve darken at the corner of my mouth. It was a harder version of me, a grittier version. Soon I was staring at a face that looked completely unfamiliar, nothing like a girl who grew up in a rich suburb with loving parents and her own bathroom.
Maybe it was a premonition or something, because as I look at it now, it makes more sense.
At first I can’t find any of my pictures, but then I spot one. Ms. Delani must really hate it to have pinned it up where it is, in the only dark corner of the entire room, above a heater that juts out of the wall and blocks part of it from view. Ingrid was amazing at art—she could draw and paint anything and make it look even better than it was—but I thought we were both good at photography.
When I took the picture I was sure it would be amazing. Ingrid and I were taking the BART train to see her older brother, who lives in San Francisco. It was a long ride because we live so far out in the suburbs. When we were passing through Oakland, there was some sort of delay, and for a while the train we were on sat still on the tracks. The engine stopped humming. People shifted in their seats, settled into waiting. I looked out the window, across the freeway, to where the sky looked so vibrantly blue over sad little run-down houses and industrial buildings. I took the picture. But I guess the colors were the beautiful part. In black-and-white it’s just sad, and Ms. Delani is probably right—who wants to look at that? But it’s still so embarrassing to have it stuck in a corner. There are a million pictures up there, but right now I feel like there’s a neon sign around mine. I try to think of some way to sneak it off the wall.
All through class, Ms. Delani smiles while she’s talking about the high expectations she has of her advanced students, smiles so hard her cheeks must hurt. The ancient clock on the wall behind me ticks so slowly. I stare at it for a few seconds, wishing the period over, and notice all the cubbies in the back of the room. I never got to empty mine last year because I missed the final week of school.
Ms. Delani writes review terms on the board—aperture, light meter, shutter speed. I start getting all fidgety, thinking of all the things I have in my cubby. I know I have some old photos, and I think there might be a few of Ingrid. I glance at the clock again, and the minute hand has hardly moved. I should wait until class is over, but I just don’t really care about being polite right now. Ms. Delani isn’t exactly being polite. So I scoot my chair back, ignore the sound of metal scraping against linoleum, and stand up. A couple people turn to see what’s going on, but when they realize it’s me they turn back fast, as if accidental eye contact could be deadly. Ms. Delani just keeps talking like everything’s normal, like she isn’t completely ignoring the fact that Ingrid’s not here. She doesn’t even pause when I walk over to my cubby and start pulling pictures out. Because I’m feeling so daring, I don’t go straight back to my seat. Instead, I take my time sorting through a bunch of old pictures I’d forgotten about. Some of Ingrid’s are mixed in, the ones I wanted copies of, and I look through them until I find my favorite—a hill with grass on it and little wildflowers, blue sky. It must be the most peaceful picture in the world. It’s the setting of a fairy tale, it’s somewhere that can’t exist anymore.
I turn around, all these photographs of my old life in my hands, and I get a sudden urge to scream. I can see myself doing it, screaming so loudly that Ms. Delani’s perfect glasses shatter, all the photographs fly off the wall, everyone in the class goes deaf. She would have to look at me then. But instead I walk back to my seat and lay my head down on the cold desk.
When the bell rings, everyone gets up and leaves. Ms. Delani says good-bye to some people, but not to invisible me.
This is what I can’t stop thinking about this morning:
Freshman year. First period. I sat next to a girl I hadn’t seen before. She was scribbling in a journal, drawing all these curvy designs. When I sat down next to her she glanced up at me and smiled. I liked the earrings she was wearing. They were red and looked like buttons.
We had spent the morning crammed in the gym with the whole school listening to the principal, Mr. Nelson, give us a pep talk. Mr. Nelson had this round face, small mouth, enormous eyes. He was balding and what was left of his hair was kind of tufty. If it’s possible for a person to look like an owl, then that’s what he looked like. I had felt lost, the gym seemed colossal, even the kids from my old middle school looked like strangers. Now we were in photography class, and even though I had never taken a film photograph or really even learned anything about art, I felt so much more comfortable in Ms. Delani’s classroom than I had felt a few minutes before. Ms. Delani called the first name off her roster and continued down the list, making notes and taking forever. I saw the girl rip a page out of her journal and write something. She pushed it closer to me. It said, Four years of this shit? Dear lord save us.
I grabbed her pen and tried to think of something cool to say. I was the new me. Braver. I had on these glass bracelets that chimed when I moved my arm.
I wrote, If you had to make out with any guy in the school who would it be?
Immediately, she wrote, Principal Nelson, of course. He’s such a hottie!
When I read it I had to laugh. I tried to make it sound like I was coughing and Ms. Delani looked up from her roster to tell us that in her mind we were all adults now, and didn’t have to ask for permission to go out into the hall if we needed a drink of water or to use the restroom.
So I did. I walked out, feeling how straight my hair was, how great my pants fit, how nice my bracelets sounded. I bent down and I drank the cold drinking-fountain water and I felt like, This is it. My life is starting. And when I got back to my seat there was a new note that said, I’m Ingrid.
I’m Caitlin, I wrote back.
And then we were friends. It was that easy.
I have English with Mr. Robertson last period. When I walk in he doesn’t give me any fake looks. He just nods at me, smiles and says, “Welcome back, Caitlin.”
Henry Lucas, who is possibly the most popular guy in the junior class, and also probably the meanest, sits in the far back corner, ignoring a couple of Alicia’s followers. ANGEL flicks her pink, manicured nails through his black hair and SPOILED says, “So you’re gonna have a thing on Friday, right?”
Henry’s always having parties because his parents own a real-estate company and are constantly out of town, speaking at conventions and getting richer. When they are around, they throw fund-raisers that my parents try to avoid. Their faces are all over billboards and parents’-club newsletters—his mom in her crisp black suits and his dad with his golf clubs and smug grin.
Now SPOILED is tugging at Henry’s hair, too. Henry stares straight ahead with an annoyed smirk, but doesn’t tell them to stop. I choose a seat across the room from them, up front by the door.
Mr. Robertson starts to take roll.
“Present!” ANGEL chirps.
It’s a name I don’t recognize. No one answers. Mr. Robertson looks up.
“No Dylan Schuster?”
The door opens in front of me and a girl pokes her head in. Her face isn’t familiar and this school is small enough that everyone looks familiar. Her hair is the darkest brown, almost black, and messy, much messier than the tousled look that a lot of the girls are going for. It makes her look like she’s been electrocuted. She has black eyeliner smudged around quick eyes that dart across the room and back again. She looks as though she’s deciding whether to come in or stay out.
“Dylan Schuster?” Mr. Robertson asks again.
The new girl looks at him and her eyes widen.
“Wow,” she says. “You’re good.”
He laughs and she strides in, a messenger bag slung over her shoulder, a cup of coffee in her hand. Her thin T-shirt has been torn down one side and safety-pinned back together. Her jeans are the tightest I’ve ever seen, and she is so tall and so skinny. Her boots thump, thump, thump to the back of the classroom. I don’t turn around to watch her, but I picture her choosing the back corner seat. I picture her slouching.
When Mr. Robertson finishes taking roll, he walks up and down the rows of desks, telling us about all the things we’ll learn this year.
I’m alone in the science building, standing on its green, scuffed-up floors, inhaling the musty air. Taylor and the rest of the popular kids have all probably claimed lockers in the English hall. Last year, Ingrid and I chose ours in the foreign-language building, right next to English, still visible but without as much school spirit. The science hall is no one’s first choice. It’s out of the way of everything but science classes, completely off the social radar. I wish it could stay empty forever.
Excerpted from "Hold Still"
Copyright © 2019 Nina LaCour.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for Hold Still:
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults (2010); 2010 William C. Morris Honor Book
“LaCour makes an impressive debut with an emotionally charged young adult novel about friendship and loss.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review**
“LaCour strikes a new path through a familiar story, leading readers with her confident writing and savvy sense of prose.” –Kirkus
“The book is written with honesty, revealing one's pain after the loss of a loved one.” –School Library Journal
“A fresh voice to the world of young adult literature.” –VOYA , starred review**
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Dear Caitlin, there are so many things I want so badly to tell you but I just can't." Hold Still is about the journey of a girl recovering the loss of her best friend in the wake of her suicide. Hold Still is written true, and in such a way that the characters lived both on the pages and off. Unlike most novels, Ingrid's journal entries seemed real and full of the emotion she had while writing. I loved the way descriptions were used-"I just stood there with my eyes closed, feeling the movement of all the people around me, the vibration of the bass rise through the floor to my throat, while something inside me broke and came back together,"- it felt like I was standing right next to Caitlin and sharing her pain. Would I recommend this book? Yes, my review does no justice for Hold Still, just believe me that you have to read it! For more book reviews, check out my blog at thehardcoverreader(dot)blogspot(dot)com
What an amazingly written, incredibly sad, emotionally beautiful story. I absolutely loved this book. I could not put this down & definitely recommend it to anyone of any age. It is geared for young adults but I'm 35 & really latched onto the characters. So well written. I cannot say enough great things about this book, highly recommended. ~Hippie Chick~
In Los Cerros, CA it's the first day of Caitlin's junior year at Vista High. In familiar first-day fashion "all the girls are squealing and hugging as if it's been years since they've laid eyes on each other. The guys are slamming their hands down on one another's backs which I guess is supposed to mean something nice." But, for Caitlin, the world is no longer familiar. Ingrid, her best friend, the one with whom Caitlin was so close they were often mistaken for sisters, committed suicide at the end of their sophomore year, leaving Caitlin to drift among her classmates as the other half to a whole that no longer exists. With Caitlin's vividly rendered voice as our guide, Nina LaCour's Hold Still takes the reader on the journey of a young woman struggling to deal with an unimaginable loss. Yet LaCour does not leave Caitlin to wander alone. Caitlin finds Ingrid's journal tucked beneath her bed. "Here's how I feel: People take one another for granted . . . You never look up, in a moment that feels like every moment of your life, and think, Soon this will be over. But I understand more now. About the way life works. I know that when I finish reading Ingrid's journal, there won't be anything new between us ever again. "So when I get home, I lock my room door even though I'm the only one home, take Ingrid's journal out, and just hold it for a little while. I look at the drawing on the first page again. And then I put the journal back. I'm going to try and make her last." Through the intense rush of her handwritten entries and wistful beauty of her drawings (lettering and art by the talented Mia Nolting), Ingrid is resurrected. As they are doled out, Caitlin and the reader explore the depths of her passions and despair, her flashes of quick dark humor, the enormity of the absence Ingrid left behind. The entries are the srong running stitch keeping the novel bound at its seams. They are also Caitlin's means of redemption, her eventual path back to herself. The strength of LaCour's writing is evident throughout. The protagonist's voices are so perfectly sixteen. For young readers, I imagine they will be instantly familiar--the endless, eyerolling exasperation with adults who just don't get it; the desperate search for confirmation and approval; the wonder of life expanding before their eyes with each new person, thought, and experience. And for readers for whom high school is merely a stack of dusty yearbooks on some forgotten shelf, it is an opportunity to re-enter this world of firsts. Crushes, loves, the wonder of first hearing a song that truly speaks to you, and especially first friends: "I walked out, feeling how straight my hair was, how great my pants fit, how nice my bracelets sounded. I bent down and I drank the cold drinking-fountain water and I felt like, This is it. My life is starting. And when I got back to my seat there was a new note that said, I'm Ingrid. "I'm Caitlin, I wrote back. "And then we were friends. It was that easy." With Hold Still, LaCour has written a book that is beautiful and true, peopled by characters who live and breathe both on the page and off. On the day I received my copy in the mail, I was up until the small hours finishing it and, even now, days later, I've often caught myself thinking about what Caitlin or Ingrid would make of something; how swiftly they would roll their eyes at one of my lame grown-up remarks; what wonder they would
This book was a very emotional and gut-wrenching book and I would recommend it to all readers because it's so powerful, arresting and full of interesting and great characters. I loved that the author didn't shy away from showing the dark reality of depression and that she gave Caitlin time to deal with what happened. I love Caitlin's lines when she's listening to music in the middle of a dance floor at a wedding and says, "I just stood there with my eyes closed, feeling the movement of all the people around me, the vibration of the bass rise through the floor to my throat, while something inside me broke and came back together." Lines like these made me feel so close to the character. In fact, every character (and it is a WONDERFUL culturally diverse set of characters) feels so real and realized. Not some conceptualized rending of what some adults believe teenagers are and what teenagers think, hope, and feel. But real young adults whose stories are meaningful, full of love and full of trouble. Focusing on their healing actually brings a wonderful quality to the book, presenting moments when the reader can breathe after tense scenes. Caitlin learns how to enjoy the small things: a good cup of coffee just to her liking, learning how to drive, hanging out in the city with friends. So yes--there are BIG PAYOFFS for making it through the sad parts of the novel. LaCour will not leave the reader broken. We are put back together and made whole--and hopeful. I really can't say enough wonderful things about this book. I won't give any more of the story away because there's plenty more to talk about. I wasn't able to put it down once I started and I'm all the better for finishing this beautiful novel. Pick it up and let Caitlin's rebirth inspire you, too!
I found this book to be both touching and painful at the same time -- but in a good way! Hold Still chronicles the journey of a teen girl as she deals with the emotional rollercoaster that follows the loss of her best friend. I read it over the course of two days and couldn't put it down.
this book breaks your heart and puts it back together again this book is soooo heart felt and deep this book will make u cry and laugh all at the same time it takes u on a journey of a girl who lost her best friend and she finds out how emotionally sick she was and things she never knew about her and helps her learn things about her self that she never knew. this book is amazing for someone who has lost a dear friend it shows true heart and soul. the langauge and the sexiulity is not very good for younger than a mature 13 year old i would not consider reading this if cant handle mature adult things but this book is amazing with an amazing story behind it. it just makes u want to live life to the fullest and dont back cuz u never know it will be your last days!!!!
This book made me cry. it was so well written. I really loved it.
A horrendously beautiful book! As lame and overused as the statement is, I simply couldn't put it down. Has exactly the right mix of all the emotions, and you can't help but hurt right along side Caitlin and feel a giddy triumph at her accomplishments. This is the kind of book that when you finish the final word, all you can feel is this deep-rooted sense of joy about life. Well, that's what I felt anyway. Absolutely gorgeous book!
Caitlin had a best friend named Ingrid. They used to hang out all of the time and they knew each other so well until Ingrid started acting weird. And then all of a sudden Ingrid was gone forever and Caitlin was left to ask the question, why? Then one day Caitlin finds Ingrid's secret journal under her bed and it explains so much she never knew. It is a great story about a girl who has to keep going even after her best friend comitted suicide. But along the way she meets more friends, get a boyfriend, and discovers herself (and a lot about Ingrid) through photography.
This story is beautiful and fun at the same time as being utterly heartbreaking. The title girl, Caitlin is trying to cope with the death of her best friend Ingrid who committed suicide. During the healing process Caitlin finds Ingrid's journal and begins reading it on her path towards filling the huge hole Ingrid has left behind. It is an inspirational story about friendship and hope after loss. For anyone who has lost someone or just wants to have a deeper understanding of how death affects the people you leave behind...this is a must read! While I thought the book could have been longer, I do truly feel that Nina LaCour has captivated her new audience with this novel. I highly anticipate her future work as well.
What I thought...is it one of the most emotional, realistic books, I have ever read. Nina Lacour is one of those authors who takes something really realistic and takes that situation and twists it outside the box, and shows the reader another point of view that we don't really see when thinking of that problem. For example is shows loss, change, and a new beginning. It shows people that life might really suck, but not always and to stick it out. The story is beautifully written, it shows both Ingrid's and Caitlin personalities through artwork that the book has, and is very affective. It also has Ingrid's journal entries. I promise that this is a tearjerker. An interesting thing that I noticed about the book is the first part (while Caitlin is suffering with depression and loss) is really slow, but once Caitlin begins to make lots of new friendships and is more happier the book goes faster. Which makes it more impacting because usually when you lose someone (according to my mother) your whole life seems to go slower. Another intriguing thing about the book is when you take the book cover off, the actual book is green right! Well on that green book is a bird, and if you read the book you'll know that Ingrid's (the best friend that committed suicide) journal has a bird on it. So it feels like Ingrid's journal, and that is a big part of the story. Also it shows Caitlin sadness and acceptance of loss through seasons in the book. I don't really have much to say, but that I highly recommend this to anyone. It's one of those stories that when read, you know that if something bad is happening in your life it'll be ok. You won't be able to read this one sitting, seeing as at times it's just to hard to read. What I thought could of been improved..... I thought the ending could of been improved. It wasn't terrible or anything, just not how I imagine it to end. I also would of like to know more of Henry's story. I felt that was kind of cut short. In All.... A well done book, that is highly recommended to everyone.
With its fantastic imagery and emotional writing, Hold Still pulls the reader immediately into the fascinating story of Caitlin, whose best friend Ingrid has just committed suicide. I was scared that the book was going to be too similar to Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, with a character committing suicide and leaving behind some form of communication, but the two were very different. Hannah had a story to tell in Thirteen Reasons Why, whereas it seems as if Ingrid's story has been told, no big secrets to reveal, just a gaping hole left behind, and having to cope with that. The journal is there, but it's its existence rather than the contents that are relied upon as plot material. The story is fully engrossing with its realism, truly being everything one could want out of realistic fiction. In some respects, I suppose the book is a bit predictable in its overarching plot, but is still an engaging read. I'm still not sure if I liked some of the supporting characters. I realize that they were supposed to be signs of Caitlin moving on, but I wished the book focused more on the relationship between Ingrid and Caitlin before bringing new people into it. However, all the characters were molded and characterized really well, so you come to love all of them, even Ingrid who doesn't even exist within the time frame of the book. The ending is perfect, and leaves the reader with much to think about, probably with more than a few tears along the way. Rating: 4.5/5
It seems appropriate to quote my favorite singer when reviewing Nina LaCour's debut novel HOLD STILL because music plays a healing role in the novel and LaCour's writing--like music--is lyrical and haunting. The characters that arise from LaCour's words pulse from the page not as echoes but as the very beat of themselves. I love Caitlin's lines when she's listening to music in the middle of a dance floor at a wedding and says, "I just stood there with my eyes closed, feeling the movement of all the people around me, the vibration of the bass rise through the floor to my throat, while something inside me broke and came back together." Lines like these made me feel so close to the character. In fact, every character (and it is a WONDERFUL culturally diverse set of characters) feels so real and realized. Not some conceptualized rending of what teenagers are and what they think, hope, and feel. But real young adults whose stories are meaningful, full of love and full of trouble. The trouble begins with Caitlin receiving devastating news that her best friend Ingrid has committed suicide. Caitlin is stunned, says at receiving the news, "My heart pounds so hard I can feel it in my ears." For the rest of the novel, we see Caitlin struggle with the memories of her friend while trying to build a new life. Caitlin's struggles will focus readers on asking themselves some important questions: how well do we know our friends, the people who love us? Can we imagine our lives without friends? The answer will be different for every reader but the conclusion that I came to after reading this novel is that with our without the people we love, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to see ourselves with new eyes...as if we're seeing ourselves for the first time. Caitlin struggles with seeing her life without Ingrid. She's alone. How can she let go when she never got a chance to say goodbye? Indeed, I think this novel challenges the reader to accept what we can and can't change. Caitlin hangs a photograph in her locker, which was taken by her deceased best friend, and she thinks, "It must be the most peaceful picture in the world. It's the setting of a fairy tale, it's somewhere that can't exist anymore." And the novel goes on and we watch Caitlin through her recovery. The road isn't entirely smooth but through art and music, she discovers herself again; she discovers new friends, new love, new purpose. Finally, she learns to let go. I won't give too much away but the final scenes took my breath away. I cried in two distinct places of the novel but I don't think they need to be stated because part of the joy of reading this book is watching Caitlin arrive to that place of peace. This is NOT a conventional novel about depression--and I mean that in a good way. Don't expect the pages to answer why some people get so depressed they can't rise out of it. Don't expect the novel to explain the symptoms of depression because they can often go unnoticed (as we see in the novel). Instead, the reader focuses on the lives of these characters and on the healing for the ones left behind Ingrid's suicide. Focusing on their healing actually brings a wonderful quality to the book, presenting moments when the reader can breathe after tense scenes. Caitlin learns how to enjoy the small things. So yes--there are BIG PAYOFFS for making it through the sad parts of the novel. LaCour will not leave the reader broken. We are
This book was awesome i finished it in three days. If you are looking for a great book that will keep you on the edge of your chair stop here because this is the book your looking for. This book made me happy, sad,glad,and mad all at the same time. I really felt i could connect with the main character caitlyn. You will fall in love with this book. So go ahead and start reading. NOW.
¿Hold Still¿ is an emotional novel full of sadness, happiness, and a life changing journey for Caitlin that is impossible to forget. The characters and the challenges they face are very realistic. This is one of those books where the reader will have a complete movie going on in their own mind because of the little, but powerful details and descriptions. The whole storyline was remarkably believable, which makes the reader feel connected in some way to the novel. It stresses the importance of love and friendship through hardships, forgiveness, remembering, and moving on. Nina LaCour is a talented author who very well displays the ordeals that Caitlin copes with. Anyone who is willing to read a tragic, yet uplifting story will love and appreciate this book.
"Dear Today, I spend all of you pretending I'm ok when I'm not, pretending I'm happy when I'm not, pretending everything to everyone. Love Ingrid" This line is from the power diary of Ingrid who committed suicide leaving her best friend, Caitlin, with just her dead best friend's diary. Throughout the novel, Caitlin continues to read parts of the diary and begins to find herself in the world. Caitlin eventually found the courage to give others that took part in Ingrid's life, letters in her diary directed to them. After Caitlin gives them their own little part of Ingrid, she goes back to their favorite place to be and watches it as it is destroyed. This novel was an excellent choice for a teenage girl such as me. I tried to put myself in Ingrid's, Caitlin's, and Dylan's shoes. It made the book just so much better for me. I find that many teenagers read books of suicide, drugs, drinking, and others of this sort. And may I say, this book filled my expectations. I had a three-week period to read this, and I finished it within 5 days. I am definitely interested in finding more books from Nina Lacour. The book was written wonderfully with a sad storyline that has a girl finding herself in the world. Overall, "Hold still" is a very emotional book about loss, suicide, and depression. To read how Caitlin went on with her life after her best friend died was arresting and to read how strong she became was wonderful. Make sure to have some tissues with you when you read the book. I highly recommend this book to teenage girls still trying to find themselves in the world, or even a 'book-hungry' reading enthusiast. I hope all who read this enjoyed it as much as I did. I give this book four stars. nh - pd1 - poplit
This book was awesome. At the beginning it was a little depressing but as Caaitlin met new people it got a lot more interesting, i reccomend for ages 13-17 or so. I like the way its written, how at first you dont have a clue why she is acting this way but as the story goes on, it all unfolds as well as Caitlin's memories and thoughts about Ingrid
Kind of depressing, but still this is my favorite book ever. Kind of inapropro, though. But still reall good. A must read if you don't mind kind of depressing books.
I read hold still and absolutely loved it! I mean it just shows u what the best friend goes through in such a tragic event. Overall I love Hold Still!
this book was awesome i loved how each detail was important and crucial to the story
A sad, yet hopeful novel. Caitlin's struggle to get over her friend's death, and find herself in the process, is captivating. I really enjoyed LaCour's use of Ingrid's journal and Caitlin's new romance to help propel the story forward.
After her best friend Ingrid commits suicide, Caitlin isn't sure how life can go on. Refusing to go to therapy and feeling alone in the world now, Hold Still follows Caitlin as she begins trudging her way through the world.After finding Ingrid's journal, a tale not only of Ingrid's descent but also something that might just help Caitilin, meeting someone who could be a new friend, and discovering that she can talk to people--that they're also grieving Ingrid's death (maybe not in the same way, but in some way), Caitlin beings to heal.Hold Still is a beautifully written book told using a narrative that follows Caitilin through her struggle to recover and find a new life and with journal entries (sometimes in the form of letters) and drawings from Ingrid. From the very first page I felt a connection to Caitlin and the pain she was in. A part of this might have been that I read this very soon (within a month or so) of a friend of mine dying, but I also believe it was a testament to Nina LaCour's strong talent. My friend did not die from suicide but I was still very much able to understand what Caitlin was going through and her need for a 'why.' I can only imagine that understanding/connection would be even stronger for someone who has lost someone to suicide.That the reader can identify with both Ingrid and Caitlin's pain in Hold Still and understand where both characters are coming from says a lot about what a strongly written book it is--and how painful it can be to read. LaCour's book really shows the lasting pain felt by those that are 'left behind' when someone takes their own life. It's told over the course of about a year so it's not a quick fix, nor does it leave the characters hanging, it truly moves Caitlin through the process of her best friend suddenly dying and also gradually lets the reader know why/how Ingrid was so depressed that she did commit suicide.(I didn't review this sooner because I really wanted to include this quote--it's from pg. 185 so if you want to skip it you can--but I think it's both beautiful and shows Ingrid's depression: '...But now not even the laughing feels good.' I think the quote (and the rest of the sentence/few around it, really encapsulate Ingrid's pain so, so well that you can truly feel it right there. [I had to get the book from the library and then find the quote--and I was a slowpoke.:])It's a book that support/counseling groups should, I believe, consider using because there's not one bit of it that seems to blame anyone for anything. It's not flowery by any means and it's not an after school special but it's real and it's painful and it's true.I sincerely hope Nina LaCour writes another book because this one was gorgeous (and not just aesthetically).10/10
Every once in a while, you read a piece of literature that's told in such a unique way that it ceases to be merely a book and is transformed into a piece of art. Hold Still is one of those amazing books. The story isn't just told, but is brought to life by the voice of Caitlin, the narrator, Ingrid's (Caitlin's best friend) diary entries, and also Ingrid's drawings. Hold Still tells the story of how Caitlin tries to recover after her best friend, Ingrid commits suicide. Plagued with guilt, Cailtin tries to pick up the pieces that Ingrid left behind armed with Ingrid's journal. I can try to sum it up as best as I can, but it still wouldn't do the book any justice. The author's words are just so vivid that it feels like you're right there, experiencing the isolation and pain that Caitlin herself is feeling, only you're helpless to stop it (it being a book/work of art and all). I found Caitlin's pain to be extremely real and I was in tears with the way Ingrid's death not only affected her, but affected her parents who felt that when Ingrid died, so did Caitlin. It was also heartbreaking to read Ingrid's journal entries and see how much pain she was in herself. Yet one thing that I loved about this book was that there wasn't anything left to unravel, in regards to Ingrid. She killed herself. There was no clear reason why Ingrid did what she did, besides the fact that she was sad and felt like she had no other way out. Some fiction books that deal with the subject of suicide will plug something in towards the end, so that the readers can have this sort of "A-hah!" moment; the person was abused, the person was rejected. But the way that Nina LaCour wrote it made Hold Still more realistic because more often than not, there is no clear reason why someone kills themselves. Sometimes people are just depressed and there is no hidden meaning to it. You feel what you feel and it's just not logical. This book wasn't so much about suicide as it was about healing; about redemption. It was bittersweet in that while we don't get to see a road of recovery for Ingrid, we get to see Caitlin try to accept this and move on with her life. Hold Still was an uplifting novel that shows that there are a lot of problems that we can overcome and that we shouldn't feel guilty when we do. Armed with beautiful writing and amazing drawings, Nina LaCour has written a book that will make you cry, yes, but won't leave you utterly depressed at the state of the world in the end.
Caitlin Madison is in mourning. Her pretty much only and best friend, Ingrid, committed suicide just before the end of sophomore year. Caitlin can¿t grasp that Ingrid is gone. She¿s certain that, as a best friend, she should have seen the signs and done something about it. Worst thing is that, somehow, Ingrid slipped her diary under Caitlin¿s bed before her final act. Caitlin is afraid to read it, fearing she¿ll find the suicide note that Ingrid¿s parents never found.Caitlin and her mother spend the summer traveling in Northern California. And then it¿s back to school. The first shock is how Ms. Delani, their photography teacher and their favorite teacher, is ignoring Caitlin. Ingrid was a superior photographer and Caitlin felt like a sidekick, but even so, she expected more from Ms. Delani. Caitlin spends a lot of her spare time in the back seat of her car, the one she can¿t drive because she never got her license. She spends a lot of time avoiding other students because (a) they were not really her friends and (b) she doesn¿t want to talk about Ingrid.But several things happen that she must face. She¿s befriended by a new girl at school, Dylan, who rumor has it is a lesbian and was kicked out of her previous school because she got caught kissing a girl. She¿s also befriended by Taylor, a boy in the in-crowd. Can these two events bring Caitlin out of her depression?Nina LaCour¿s Hold Still is a wonderful book. It is on a par with The Hate List by Jennifer Brown and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher although it tackles suicide from a different perspective¿one girl¿s struggle to cope with the emotions resulting from the suicide of a best friend. Caitlin must battle everything: her parents¿ concern, the expectations and requirements of a new friendship with Dylan and the fear that it will diminish her friendship with Ingrid, the possibility of a boyfriend, the disappointment of a teacher¿s reaction to her. Every character is real. Every emotion is real. Ingrid comes alive (no pun intended) based on Caitlin¿s reminiscences. Incorporating photography into the plot enhances the story¿s effectiveness. According to my friend Helen, Ms. LaCour, who is her son¿s English teacher in California, ¿¿is nice as can be. She's working on a new novel right now.¿ It¿s good to know that a gifted author is nice and that a new novel is in the works. You should read Hold Still. Then read The Hate List and Thirteen Reasons Why.
Caitlin is beginning her junior year in high school - but she's definitely suffering from much more than beginning-of-the-year jitters. Everything is different for Caitlin this year - her best friend Ingrid is no longer there - she committed suicide and now Caitlin is left reeling from the aftershock and trying to come to terms with the loss of her closest friend.Not only is Caitlin suffering emotionally, but everyone around her is also affected by her unexpected death. Ms. Delani, the photography teacher, seems to be giving Caitlin the cold shoulder and being overly critical of her work. The kids at school are walking on eggshells around her. Even her parents are concerned over the way she's acting (she's been spending long periods of time in her car parked out front of her house). Then she finds Ingrid's journal. A journal that Ingrid carried with her at all times of the day and that Caitlin's sure will have all the answers as to why her friend would resort to suicide. Caitlin makes a pact to read one entry a day in the hopes of finding answers... but instead she finds so much more.I've been wanting to read this book for a while now, but I've been holding off because I knew this story was going to have me on an emotional roller coaster. I must admit that I am pretty impressed with the way Ms. LaCour was able to capture Caitlin's grief in a way where she makes it YOUR grief. From the moment you open to its first page until you read it's last sentence, you are on a journey with Caitlin - a journey to find a way of coping and living without someone you love. It's a journey that is heartbreaking, emotional, thoughtful, even painful ... one that will bring tears to your eyes, but will also leave you feeling hopeful and lighthearted. This story is beautifully executed - it captures all aspects of adolesence and brings them into perspective. The characters were captivating. The story was emotional, raw, powerful. It definitely resonated with me and will not be quickly forgotten.