dear 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.
Before I begin my review, I would like to place a strong trigger warning on both the book and my review. There will be discussion of suicide, depression, and self harm. Please use precaution before picking up Hold Still or continuing with this review. It is totally okay to exit out of this review if there is a possibility of something discussed triggering you. You are most important. Now that we’ve discussed that, let’s get on to the review.
Hold Still is a quiet, heartbreaking novel. The book follows Caitlin reeling in the aftermath of her best friend’s death by suicide. Caitlin discovers Ingrid’s private journal documenting her battle with depression and final few months.
This book is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. Content warnings aside, it can be seen as slow because it is a character-driven book. There is no solid “plot” aside from an internal journey which we read with Caitlin and Ingrid. I personally did not have an issue with it, but contemporary is personally my favorite which tends to be character driven.
Nina’s writing style is one of my favorites because it is doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t: it’s simplistic yet manages to give a certain grace and sensitivity to the story. Despite the looming themes of depression and suicide, the story does not end in the same manner: it gives you a sense of optimism and hope. The sun will shine again, no matter what.
With that being said, the book is really hard to get through. Some of the content is quite graphic. I am not normally upset by discussion of suicide, but it really impacted me at some points (especially because I live far away from my best friend). Regardless of your relation to the themes in the book, please take care of yourself so it does not become internalized.
Hold Still is important. It is raw, emotional, but so so important. If you are in an okay head space, it is worth a read.
So, what do I rate Hold Still?
I hope you enjoyed checking out my review! Have you read Hold Still or any of Nina LaCour’s other books? What are some of your other favorite books that deal with difficult topics such as suicide?