Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Hold On

Hold On by Alan Gibbons
Paperback,176 pages

Published 23rd December 2010 by Orion Children's Books

My shelves: abuse, arc-or-review, awful-cover, better-than-expected, books-i-own, death, mental-health, read-in-2012, realistic-fiction, suicide, to-be-reviewed, young-adult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

When Annie returns from an extended stay in Canada, she discovers that her friend John has killed himself. Annie is devastated by his death and is determined to confront those she believes responsible—a group of boys from her school, who bullied John mercilessly in the months before he died. But Annie's parents and friends don't share her wish to bring the boys to justice. She finds herself treading a lonely path—and soon discovers that nothing is straightforward. She is helplessly attracted to one of the boys, and when she reads John's diary, it's clear they weren't the only ones to cause him so much unhappiness. The novel tells John's story as a tragic waste of a young life in an unsentimental and compassionate way, but also tells Annie's story about moving on and looking towards the future.

My thanks go to Orion for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

I will be honest and say that, at first look, I wasn't expecting all that much from this book. At first look, Hold On is a very thin book and it has the accolade of being a 'Blue Peter Book Award Winner' on the front cover - I thought that this would mean it would be perhaps a little juvenile for me. However, as soon as I read the blurb, I knew that this was a book that I'd have to give a go!

My favourite books are those that feature real emotion and problems and this book certainly fits that description. Hold On tells the story of John, a boy who has committed suicide. We are told the story through John's friend, Annie, who finds John's diary, describing the last weeks of his life. Through this way of narrative, we got to learn a lot about both characters. I enjoyed the way this was written - it  was a little different, it was simple and it worked extremely well. I was a little worried that it might have become a little confusing but it didn't at all, it was very easy to follow despite the complexity of the story.

I enjoyed reading about Annie and John equally. I thought that both characters were interesting and very well developed, despite the shortness of the book. Though the story is a mere 176 pages, the whole story managed to have such fantastic depth, something that I didn't expect but was really impressed with. It was also interesting to see the impact of bullying on two different people - the victim (John) and the friend of the victim (Annie). Gibbons did a wonderful job of portraying a difficult situation very realistically. Though Annie may have acted a little controversially to the bullies after John's death, I thought it was realistic and effective. It was also interesting to see how other people (teachers, friends and family members) were coming to terms with John's death too.

This is a book that certainly surprised me as it was much, much better than I thought a short book could be. This novel is dealt with a serious situation well and I'd imagine could be a very influential book. This one is definitely not a light hearted read, but it is an important one which is emotional and packs a punch. I would certainly not hesitate to pick up another book by Gibbons who has  truly impressed me. Highly recommended! 


  1. It sounds heartbreaking but very good! Sadly, with this issue becoming more and more prevalent in the States, I feel like this is the sort of novel our young people should be reading. I hope Annie managed to find a way to forgive. I'll have to TBR it and find out for myself.

  2. This sounds so good, you've convinced me! Great review! :)

  3. Do you know where can I get this book? It's out of stock at Amazon and I don't know other book sellers:(


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