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Hold Love Strong

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  297 ratings  ·  81 reviews

In this poignant tale of self-discovery, a young man struggles to survive the New York City housing projects in the face of familial, communal, and personal devastation.

Born to a thirteen-year-old in the bathroom of his family's small apartment, Abraham Sing leton enters a world laden with the obstacles inherent in an impoverished community. In spite of the crack epidemic

Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by Touchstone (first published February 13th 2009)
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Excellent book! Amazing Writing! I loved it! I was captured from the very first sentence. This book speaks to the human spirit and evoked emotion from my heart. I felt I knew these characters, it's as if they were real people. Any book that can make me laugh, cry, get angry & speak out loud to myself is a book I would recommend to the world! This will surely be used for Sociology and Gender Studies courses. I wish I had my Ph.D. so I could teach a course and give this book to my students; it ...more
Wow! Very well written and one of those books you just have to keep reading-- I received it on Wed and finished it on Sunday-- and I worked every night in between. Heartbreaking and touching, makes you smile and cry. The journey of a young man moving through trials that history and family and geography laid upon him which he naviagated with grace. Abraham shows us that life is never easy, that we won't always make the right choice, and that espite it all sucess is possible. I want to know if Mat ...more
I've heard it said that writers tend toward tragic stories rather than triumphant stories because the latter are harder to pull of convincingly. Goodman does not appear to suffer from that problem. "Hold Love Strong" is a wonderfully executed triumphant story. The narrator's family is wonderfully created, both in their love for each other and in how they are affected by the largely futile environment in which they live. Their struggles and hopes , even when they end tragically, are touching. Rea ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
Born to a thirteen year old mother who goes by the name Jelly, Abraham Singleton enters a perverse word of drugs, gangs and violence. In a tiny apartment, He is forced to adjust to his surroundings where chaos and reckless behavior are apparent. His aunt Rhonda, Uncle Nice, and two of his other brothers each teaches him a valuable lesson on life and how to survive on it's own. Donnel his brother and him share a inseparable bond but Donnel faces more trouble than he expects. Jelly hast lost all h ...more
While the subject of this book is nothing new or unique, and has, in fact, actually been addressed over and over again, it is the way this story is told that is all at once captivating and engaging, heartbreaking and devestating. This story is told from a child's perspective (albeit in retrospect) and thus the reader is made privy to the inner-thoughts of someone who has grown up and survived the type of poverty and lifestyle that most of us have never been directly exposed to.

This story makes
I will be honest and tell you that I only brought this book home with me because of the inside flaps. It’s a novel about an African-American boy growing up in the projects. And the author is a Caucasian guy who went to Brandeis (Jew school where my brother goes). So yeah, I just wanted to see whether this most likely Jewish dude who went to a nice, private university could pull off the projects without, well, coming off as an a$$hole.

Having not grown up in the projects or experienced that myself
Mar 23, 2009 Cheryl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: ARC
"I hope that upon each page you find a compelling story composed with and about humanity, nothing more, nothing less." wrote the author in a letter that accompanied the ARC.

And that I definitely did! This is an incredibly well-written story of survival, of the indomitable spirit of a child who wanted something different than the way of life he was living. Abraham, the main character, is so real that even after I have already put the book away, even knowing it is labeled fiction, I think of that
This was a powerful book!~! In her landmark, non-fiction book, "A Framework for Understanding Poverty", Ruby Payne documents the facts of poverty and provides practical yet compassionate strategies for addressing poverty's impact on people's lives. This novel puts a very human face on Payne's research! Born to a 13 yr. old mother, Abraham tells the story of his life in the projects. Hopes and dreams are extinguished by the grinding weight of poverty. This absorbing story rang true; it echoed the ...more
This story about a young black man growing up in the projects with a crack-addicted teenage mother and a proud but poor grandmother felt stereotypical and contrived to me. The lyrical way it is narrated oftentimes borders on the melodramatic and creates a disconnect between the topic and the reader. It just didn't feel at all realistic that this boy, even looking back on his childhood, would be describing the setting and the slow paced, highly descriptive events in this lovingly detailed way. It ...more
If I hadn't run across this book at the library, I would have never known it existed. It's not on any bestseller lists or book club lists or anything. But it should be. It's a beautifully written mediation on growing up as an inner-city kid. The personal tragedies and triumphs. The lengths that people will go to for their family. What one must overcome to make their situation better. How some people see no way out and give up. How others never give up. This book is heart warming and heartbreakin ...more
Imagine sitting down listening to a friend describe their life growing up before you knew them. A life you did not know he lived. This is how you will feel when reading Hold Love Strong by Mathew Aaron Goodman. Abraham Singleton, the narrator, tells of his coming-of-age in the Ever Park Housing Project in Queens, New York. The author’s matter-of-fact, yet intimate, tone will grab you through poetic language as he unfolds the Singleton family story of love, hope, and just living day-to-day.

The s
Beautifully written, this is a haunting and provoking story about an African American family, the struggles they suffer and try to overcome. At the center of the story is Abraham – born to a young thirteen year-old girl – he is determined to thrive in a place that is ripe with addiction, poverty and racial discrimination. Hold Love Strong is a spellbinding tale of love, hope, the will to survive and the incredible capacity of the human spirit.
I don't think I can come up with words to convey just how amazing this book was. It stirred every emotion, and I held on to every word with longing for more. Goodman clearly knows create real, raw characters that rip you to the core.

This book should be required reading for everyone. EVERYONE.
I LOVED this book. I loved the characters. I loved the language. I loved the descriptions of place, people, and family life. This book is so filled with the love and complications of family life. This was the most pleasurable read I've enjoyed this year.
my favorite book in a long long time, a month later and i still want to know, what happens to Abraham? soooooooo good, really incredible. Cant wait to see more from this author!
Book felt extremely authentic. It was nice to see a kid overcome the odds in a realistic way. I know my students will LOVE this title.
Apr 16, 2014 Loryn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Adults, Adults, People who like African American Fiction
Recommended to Loryn by: First Reads
First Reads win!!! (again!!!) YAY! (I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads)

This beautifully written novels tells the story of Abraham Singleton known as A by his family, a young African American male who is born into a world many today would find hard to understand. The story takes place in projects of New York, a section that everyone refers to as Ever Park.

Drugs, violence, and poverty are constant struggles that A and his family face on a daily basis. A's mother had him whe
Trapped in the Gap

The difficulty of breaking the poverty cycle when the odds are against you. The love of a family when "babies raising babies" is not gender specific but communal and yet the determination to hope for better becomes the drive that sustains. This is the journey of one male from infancy to college and the lives that subsidizes his flight including death, pushing drugs, disability, violence, incarceration and intimidation.

Very well done. Integration of strong language with strong
Hold Love Strong manages to be sad and funny, uncomfortable and hopeful. Goodman doesn't make his protagonist a flawless victim of his environment; Abraham is smart and complex. He seems to teeter between letting his surroundings dictate his future or charting a new path. His family could at times feel a little predictable as characters but Goodman brings them to life with admirable qualities as well as flaws the reader can understand, if not forgive. The characters interact in believable ways t ...more
Oct 28, 2009 Cathy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This review is from Tanya from It sold me.

1. It evokes, so completely, a place I've never been to and certainly never thought I'd be in love with, with language that feels so honest and so loving that I'm blown completely away.
2. The main character, Abraham Singleton, named not after that white guy who freed slaves, but "the old man in the Bible that God said was gonna be the father of a great people as numerous as the stars," is so well loved by people so completely a mes
I agree that this novel is well-written, which seems to add a sense of detachment and dreaminess to the otherwise raw narrative. The subjects which Abraham discusses in his lyrical prose are despair, ghetto life, drug use, and abuse. To do so in such an abstract rhythm creates a layer between the reader and the narrative.
Robin Nicholas
I strongly recommend this book. Set in the projects in New York it is genuine, sincere and gritty, while still maintaining a bit of hope. This is the story of Abraham whose mother was 13 years old when he was born. He lives in a small apartment with his Grandmother, his Aunt with her two sons, a young Uncle, his mother and himself. Close quarters in a scary building. A scary neighborhood. Crack, guns, thugs, and a general sense of no hope. The writer did not grow up there, but he teaches writing ...more
Denise Holley
I wish I could give this book six stars. I was prepared to like it because the author is a friend of mine, but it turned out to be one of the best books I've ever read. So emotional and heart wrenching but in the best way!!!! He makes you want to read as fast as possible just to find out what happens next. The characters are incredibly complex yet so realistic that they somehow remain a mystery. Loved it!!!
Apr 05, 2009 Denise rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Denise by: Goodreads First Reads
I finally got to read "Hold Love Strong: A Novel" by Matthew Aaron Goodman. I won this book through Goodreads first reads, but had loaned it out to a relative who needed a good and challenging read. It was worth the wait, when I recently got the book back (with a great recommendation). We both enjoyed this book. It is not the type of book that I normally read, because the premise has so much struggle and sadness. I couldn't help but adore Abraham and want him to succeed, eventhough life hasn't b ...more
I saw this book on a recommended shelf at Barnes & Noble and I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical at first. I thought it might be too cliche or just really depressing. But I loved it. The characters were so compelling and rich. The narration reveals so much about the characters, their choices, thoughts, and feelings, but almost in a way that's not self-conscious and certainly not self-pitying. I have never lived the experiences of the narrator & his family, so I can't speak to the "accu ...more
This adult novel is urban fiction, but not your typical urban fiction--it's beautifully written, even though it's full of violence, language, teenage moms, and depressing situations.[return][return]Abraham was born to a 13-year-old mother who eventually turns into a crack addict who is murdered. Everything around him is horrible--typical New York City projects. Basketball may be his way out, but, like all basketball stars, school and the police keep getting in the way. His grandma is trying to k ...more
Kylie Briggs
Really, I'd probably give this 4.5 stars, but that's not an option here.

My one big problem with this book is that the N word seems to be used in almost every sentence. But that is just my own personal distaste for the word. I see that it worked for the characters.

Other than that, it's quite a touching story of a young black man and his challenge to make something of his life despite the challenges of growing up in such a terrible environment.

Abraham, the main character, seems to be constantly
When I started this book, I thought, great, another book set in the ghetto--typical babies raising babies, drugs, tragedy, etc. I just recently read Sapphire's Push and I didn't think I could take another book like that. But once I read a few chapters I was hooked. THis book is nothing like Push (thank god). Goodman is such an interesting writer--very flowery but still direct. The main character is such a survivor, you want him to overcome so badly, and the supporting characters are very well-de ...more
Kevin McAllister
Hold Love Strong tells the tale of a young African American boy Abraham, being born into a New York ghetto, growing into manhood, and eventually finding a way to escape the ghetto. Abraham's upbringing is filled with drugs, violence, crime, and death. It's a harsh unforgiving life and the fact that Abraham is able to rise above the ghetto and in the end attend college in New England is no doubt inspirational and encouraging. But in my mind, the happy ending was way too over done. The ending was ...more
Paula Allen
I flipped through the pages of HOLD LOVE STRONG while at the library and mentally noted to add it to my “to be read” pile, so when it came up for review, I had to get it. Matthew Aaron Goodman is Caucasian but he flawlessly wrote this book with a cast of African-American characters as though it was his own experience. His prose is lyrical and full of imagery, which immerses you in the settings. I could not help but be drawn into Abraham’s tale and root for him to come out on top. His resiliency ...more
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Hold Love Strong 2 23 Aug 06, 2012 08:10AM  
Film adaption? 1 7 Aug 06, 2012 08:09AM  
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“Our love was unwavering, unflappable, greater than anything presented by the Bible, the Torah, and the Qur'an combined. That is, where we'd go, what would occur, what we lost and gained together, what we suffered and championed through, what we sometimes wished to recall and force ourselves to forget, our lives, the occasions and circumstances, were more than everything, more than forever, more than even the truth.” 5 likes
“That is, I could either see myself as a nonentity, or I could see myself as whatever I wished to be, like a star, born from the bang of nothing or a dream.” 2 likes
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