Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Hold Tight, Don't Let Go” as Want to Read:
Hold Tight, Don't Let Go
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Hold Tight, Don't Let Go

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  576 ratings  ·  117 reviews
Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go follows the vivid story of two teenage cousins, raised as sisters, who survive the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. After losing the woman who raised them in the tragedy, Magdalie and Nadine must fend for themselves in the aftermath of the quake. The girls are inseparable, making the best of their new circumstances in a refugee camp with an af ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Harry N. Abrams
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Hold Tight, Don't Let Go, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Hold Tight, Don't Let Go

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  576 ratings  ·  117 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Hold Tight, Don't Let Go
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ijeoma by: Goodreads
Hold Tight, Don't Let Go is a fictional story based on the earthquake that occurred in Haiti in 2010. Magdalie, our main character, resides with her aunt and her cousin, Nadine, whom she has lived with majority of her life. At the start of the story, the earthquake hits and Magdalie's aunt is instantly killed. (This is not a spoiler, it literally occurs in the first two pages.)
Magdalie not only has to deal with the death of her aunt, who raised her as a daughter, but now Nadine's father has sent
Robin Tobin (On the back porch reading)
“Kenbe fem, pa lage.” Goodbye in Haitian Creole.... A story expertly woven with the rich textures of raw emotion and life...

PopSugar 2020 - Author with flora or fauna in name.
A heartbreaking, yet hopeful, coming-of-age story unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go tells the story of Haitian teenager Magdalie and her cousin Nadine, whose lives are ripped apart following the earthquake of January 2010. Magdalie’s extraordinary resilience and determination drive her to seek a new life in America. But when Magdalie is forced to let go of her dreams and accept the harsh reality of her life, she opens her heart to new friendships and new opportunities ...more
Sarah Laurence
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A moving novel about the Haitian earthquake and a teenaged orphan's struggle to survive. Excellent classroom supplement, but the gritty realism might be a bit grim for the casual reader. Fine writing, solid research, strong sense of place with well developed characters. I'm pleased to see a book like this published. Full review on my blog: ...more
By reading this book, I realized that there are many places that are actually very poor and in a lot more trouble. However, those people can be just as happy as we are. This book talked mainly about a poor girl who grew up in Port-au-Prince and all the problems she had to overcome. After reading this book, it made me think about a major theme:

It is important to accept all the bad things in life and appreciate all the good once. In the story, the protagonist, Magdalie, a poor teenager who's lost
Mississippi Library Commission
Beware! You will cry while reading this book about the aftermath of Haiti's 2010 earthquake. Wagner's story of a girl who looses everything but regains her hope is beautiful and well worth a few tears. ...more
Gabie (OwlEyesReviews)
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2015
Full Review from my blog Owl Eyes Reviews

It’s not everyday that you see a young adult book with a non-American black protagonist, so when I saw this book I was very attracted it it. The story wasn’t necessarily attractive to me, but I wanted to try the story simply to read about this different perspective.

I was surprised how I - a black, first generation Congolese American girl with parents who grew up speaking french - could find so many cultural similarities between myself and the characters
4.5 stars.
Teenagers Magdalie and Nadine were raised as sisters and it never mattered that they were really cousins until the earthquake. Now Nadine's biological father can bring her out of Haiti to Miami, and Magdalie is left behind in the ruins of Port-au-Prince with an uncle -- and without a visa.

Strengths: Written by a cultural anthropologist (American) who was herself living in Haiti at the time of the 2010 earthquake, this book is intensely vivid in its depiction of tight-knit Haitian cult
1st Cap Choices 14+ book of the year. About a teenage girl's life in Haiti after the earthquake, but so much better than that description sounds to me! 3 1/2 stars. ...more
HOLD TIGHT, DON’T LET GO by Laura Rose Wagner is an unforgettable young adult novel set in Port-au-Prince Haiti during and after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

The story begins with a chilling description of the Haiti earthquake through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old girl named Magdalie. As she searches through the rubble of her home, the stark aftermath of her collapsed world soon becomes clear. The chapters are named with months and years beginning with the earthquake on January 12, 2010 thr
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Laura Rose Wagner's "Hold Tight, Don't Let Go" is a coming-of-age story set in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Nadine goes to the US leaving Magdalie behind. This is the story of Magdalie, a fifteen year old living in a camp with her uncle. Originally focusing on a reunion with her friend Nadine, a reunion that just wasn't in the stars, Magdalie has to come to terms with her life in Haiti. In her new environment, especially since she is no longer in school, Magdalie has to grow u ...more
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti changed everything for teenaged cousins Nadine and Magdalie. The loving aunt and Manman, who supported them, has died in the rubble. Tonton Elie, assumes guardianship, but the destruction of buildings is total, and their Port-au-Prince home is now in a city of tents. Schools are closed; food and water are scarce; jobs are intermittent or nonexistent. Nadine is lucky as her father in the US obtains the correct immigration paperwork, and she heads off to Miami, with th ...more
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ms. Wagner has made a stunning debut to the fiction world; Hold Tight, Don't Let Go (HTDLG) is a surreal and gripping novel, and absolutely took my breath away. Having not much knowledge of Haiti before reading this, I went in not knowing what to expect. HTDLG not only introduces the reader to the vibrant community and history of Haiti, but it also shows every aspect of the devastating aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. HTDLG manages to tie in an enthralling and riveting story of a teenager's lif ...more
Anita Lock
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A massive earthquake strikes Haiti, and leaves Magdalie Jean-Baptiste and her cousin, Nadine, without their Manman (mother) or a home. The 16-year-old girls have no choice but to live with their uncle in a makeshift camp in Port-au-Prince. Magdalie may be dirt poor and can no longer attend school, but at least she has her cousin's companionship. That familial situation, however, is short-lived when Nadine receives a visa to Miami, and leaves Magdalie with the promise of getting her to America so ...more
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Considering how close Haiti is to the U.S. few of us know much about this country, especially in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake which hit in 2010. The experience of the earthquake and life afterwards in the tent cities is painful to read. Magdalie and her cousin Nadine, lose not only their home, but their mother as well as she took Magdalie in at an early age. Their mother worked hard to support them and was sure to send them to school. Now they have no means of support and can no l ...more
May 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 9th grade & up
3.5 stars

The first person narrative follows Magdalie from the 2010 earthquake through two years of survival. It feels real, her despair and anger at the loss of her mother (aunt who was her mother from a young age) to the earthquake and of her sister/cousin to immigration following the earthquake. Magdalie's life is shattered much the same as Haiti was by the earthquake and she must rebuild. The writing is good and gives a sense of place as the reader is taken from Port-au-Prince to the mountain
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
"Hold Tight, Don't Let Go" takes readers to Haiti as the earthquake hits. Our guide, fifteen year old Magda shares her loss, frustration, hopes, fears, anger and desperation as she continues to deal with loss and struggles to find a way to keep living the the camps.

The authors love and hope for Haiti comes through in the beautiful jewel of a novel. My copy was a gift from Goodreads First Reads.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book really had me feeling like I was actually in Haiti eating a bunch of fruits under a tree.

It tells the story of immigration from the voice that usually gets left out, the voice of the people who get left behind. Be ready to cry.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Oh my goodness, this was so realistic and, quite frankly, depressing. Very good, but not an easy read.

8th grade and up
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exceeded my expectations. A very culturally accurate depiction of life in Haiti during and after the earthquake. I plan re-reading this again
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In her debut novel, PhD Laura Rose Wagner writes a coming of age novel about the devastating 2010 earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti through the eyes of Magdalie and Nadine. Magdalie and Nadine are sisters, teenagers, born and raised Haitians, and lose their “Manman” that shocking January 12 day. They lean on each other in the aftermath of the wreckage, as they always have, but now without their mother, and while living in a refugee camp in a house made of plywood, sheet metal and plas ...more
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have read a lot of books about Haiti and this is by far one of the best. This fictional memoir esque story is so real. The tiny details that the author includes allowed the reader to actually see the scene and feel what it is like to be in the moment with magda if only in our imagination. For example cooking an egg for her and her uncle to share, the way the machete leans in the corner against the house, and the prestige bottle caps used to keep the tarp from tearing. Each of these description ...more
Tishy Wishy
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Magdalie and Nadine are cousins by blood but sisters by heart. The 2010 earthquake that had a devastating impact on Haiti, has taken away their mother - crushing her under the collapse of the house they lived in. Nadine's father, who is in Florida, has filed for her and she leaves promising to send for Magdalie so they can be reunited.

Having lost her mother and now sister and no longer able to afford to go to school, Magdalie must navigate new friendships, finding money to live, eat and afford
Marisa Gonzalez
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Magdalie was a small child when she was taken in by her aunt after the death of her mother. She was raised along side her aunt's daughter, Nadine. The two become so close they consider themselves sisters and lead a humble yet happy life in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Their lives are shattered on January 12, 2020 when the horrific earthquake kills the aunt along with thousands of others and changes Haiti forever. The cousins are soon separated - Magdalie stays in Haiti but ends up in a refugee camp wi ...more
Barbara Rhine
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the best fiction about Haiti that I have read so far. A forthright straight-ahead story, written for young adults but interesting for everyone, it follows a young girl in the aftermath of the earthquake. The difficult conditions in Haiti become apparent, but without lurid violence or sex, and without a lecture the reader becomes aware of the problems that center around Haiti's history of French and American domination, its light-skinned elite, its lack of proper housing, health, educatio ...more
Mar 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's rare when a book touches you down to your core. You cry (maybe more than once), you read certain passages over and over, you find yourself thinking about the characters in those moments you're not reading it. This was one such book.

Hold Tight, Don't Let Go is the story of two 16-year-old cousins, Nadine and Magdalie, raised as sisters by Nadine's mother in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The story opens during the first frightening moments of the devastating January 2010 earthquake,
Katharine Oswald
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful & heartbreaking. You will get a glimpse of Haiti after the earthquake through a young, vulnerable, fearful girl that has to learn how to be fearless. A great depiction of life in Haiti, especially after the earthquake. Great for those wanting to be informed on Haiti/Caribbean culture. Read it!
Stacey Jones
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a beautifully real look into a first person account of the earthquake in Haiti. It wasn't tied up in a nice bow or sugar-coated in any way. It was extremely relatable if you've ever been through a huge upheaval, transition, or difficult time. It's also an eye-opening look at the poverty and life of the lower class in other countries. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Spring 2019, Wild...: Anna B Moore's Book Review 5 1 3 Jan 31, 2019 12:48AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Songs for the End of the World
  • Paradise (Beloved Trilogy, #3)
  • Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold War
  • The Downstairs Girl
  • The Hanged Woman's Daughter
  • Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio
  • Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe
  • The Falcon's Malteser (Diamond Brothers, #1)
  • When Zachary Beaver Came to Town
  • The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life
  • The Dark Wind (Leaphorn & Chee, #5)
  • The Second Mrs. Gioconda
  • A Taste of Blackberries
  • Double Feature
  • The English Wife
  • Ayiti
  • The Complete Horowitz Horror
  • Robert B. Parker's Buckskin (Virgil Cole & Everett Hitch, #10)
See similar books…
Laura Rose Wagner has a PhD in anthropology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She lived in Port-au-Prince from 2009 to 2012, and survived the earthquake. She travels to Haiti often, and founded a creative writing group for young people there.

Related Articles

  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
61 likes · 9 comments
“I could not hold on to Nadine. I cannot hold on to Safira. All I can do is hold everyone in my heart, the only place I know where I can keep them safe.” 1 likes
“The music is happy; the laughter is happy. Everything feels ecstatic and desperate. Blurrily, I think of sex, and I think of death. I realize: Every moment of joyous celebration contains the seed of death.” 1 likes
More quotes…