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Holding On To Nothing

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  159 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Lucy Kilgore has her bags packed for her escape from her rural Tennessee upbringing, but a drunken mistake forever tethers her to the town and one of its least-admired residents, Jeptha Taylor, who becomes the father of her child. Together, these two young people work to form a family, though neither has any idea how to accomplish that, and the odds are against them in a p ...more
Hardcover, First, 262 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Blair Publishers
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Average rating 4.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  159 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Stacey A.  Prose and Palate
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
Small Appalachian Town Setting ✔
Dog named Crystal Gayle ✔✔
Doomed Love Story ✔
More Dolly Parton references than you can shake a stick at ✔✔

Pour yourself a Jack and coke, dust off your Jolene and Little Sparrow albums and curl up with a hound dog to set the mood for this incredible debut. If you like southern fiction, you need this book. Right. Now. Go ahead. Press that order button. I'll wait.

I devoured this story in one sitting and experienced every emotion under the sun while reading it. I cou
Amy (TheSouthernGirlReads)
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
| #partner|
Ok, I have given myself some time to Digest. Reflect. Process. Now let's review my favorite book of 2019 shall we?
You know me, I have to preface this by saying. This review will not do this novel justice. I wish, I could invite everyone into my brain (scary thought I know) and my heart to feel the effects of this novel...since that is not possible, let's try to do this thing justice. Grab your glass of Tennessee Whiskey put on your Dolly Parton and settle in
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Holding On To Nothing shines a light on being human. Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne's flawed yet irresistible characters make mistakes -- for both good and bad reasons, and when they know better -- and also when they don't. She knows the South about which she writes: guns and alcohol, loyal friends and dogs, poverty, religion, and tobacco farming. This is a completely immersive read. The author's compassion and humor will make readers fall in love with the characters and root for them in their darke ...more
Kelly Ford
I’m so dang thrilled that this book is gonna hit the shelves of bookstores. I could talk forever about how much I love this book, but here’s my official endorsement.

"In this gritty debut, Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne deftly captures the blue-collar ache and darkly comic sensibility of what it means to exist in a world of disappointment and generational trauma, where one is both cussed and cursed. It's impossible to turn away as these hardscrabble characters embark on a long shot at lov
Laura • lauralovestoread
Well friends. I just met one of my favorite books for the year!! Oh my heart. This book packed such a punch, and surprised me in such a good way. My book friends have grabbed my attention right away with needing to read this doomed love story. Southern fiction at its best!

Holding On To Nothing by @ecshelburneauthor is such a slow burn, hits-you-in-all-the-feels kind of book. To say I loved it doesn’t do it justice. It gave me such Where the Heart Is vibes, based on a pregnant girl in
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne writes with a chafe and charm that makes you give a damn about these flawed characters, Lucy and Jeptha, makes you root for them when what little they have is at risk. This novel has all the makings of a true ballad—heartache and dead ends, booze and bad decisions, double-crossing relatives, a hand-me-down mandolin, and a loyal dog named Crystal Gayle. It also has a deep humming heart that knows sorrow. Like Lucy’s beloved Dolly Parton, Holding On To Nothing is not jus ...more
Melody (OhTheBooksSheWillRead) Hawkins
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Y'all!!!! I finished reading HOLDING ON TO NOTHING by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne a little over a week ago. I do not say this often, but, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!

It is simply beautiful. It will make you cry. It will make you laugh. It will make you so angry you won't know what to do with yourself. You will want to hug your loved ones after reading this book. And you will want to forgive them for any petty grievances you have had in the past.

This is the story of Jeptha and Lucy. It is not you
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)

We’re following a young couple in rural Tennessee who have a fumbling start to their relationship and one predicated on circumstance mostly. They’re imperfect and endearing to the reader because of this, and their story examines small-town politics, prejudices, class and poverty. This took me a little while to fall in to the narrative, though the slower start to the plot had me really immersed in their character development. I loved the Southern elements to the story (the richly written settings
Randi (randi_reads)
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this based on reading some other reviewers recommendations and I am so glad I did. The hype is real with this one!! (At least for me.) I’ve been needing a five star read and this was it!
Lucy and Jeptha’s story was heartbreaking and real. I’ve seen others call it a love story, but I can’t quite call it that. It’s more of a growing up/coming into your own story. Yes, Jeptha has loved Lucy for many years, but it was never returned. After a night of alcohol and a backseat of a car, Lucy
Kate F.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Southern fiction is not a genre I've spent much time with, but this book has me looking for more. Holding On To Nothing is absolutely gripping, and even a month later my husband and I keep randomly bringing it up as we are reminded of various elements. Not having spent any time in the South, much less Appalachia, the rich descriptions let me slip into the scenery, sounds, and culture of a small town full of people who have (mostly) given up on trying to get out. For a book that ultimately left m ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
That was... something special. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐+
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking and so real I couldn't put it down. Lucy and Jeptha's story stayed with me long after the story ended. This is a gorgeous debut.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorites
For the love of all things bookish and holy there are not enough stars in the world to give this book. I am wrecked.

Maybe a couple of weeks ago @prose_and_palate was raving about Holding Onto Nothing in her stories with her fabulous parking lots PSA’s. I usually lean heavily on a recommendation from Stacey because we have similar reading tastes. I am SO thankful that I listened and got my hands on a copy of this book, which released today.

This book. This book was gritty and heartbreaking. It was
Deb Coco
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

Holding On To Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne is a raw and gritty novel about life in a small town in East Tennessee.

Lucy Kilgore has suffered the heartrending loss of her parents but her mom's best friend LouEllen Moss stepped in to raise her. The town is also very supportive of their golden girl as her plans to go to college are on the verge of coming to fruition. Lucy works two jobs in order to save up enough money to leave but an ill-advised, impulsive decision alters/>Holding
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book ripped my heart out. As sad as it is, this book is real life here where I live. I felt like I’ve known these characters my whole life and I could relate to their struggles. My heart went out to them, Jeptha especially. Through their ups and downs, I foolishly remained hopeful. I want to recommend this book to you all, but just know it is not an easy read. I was left crushed, feeling sick, and frozen to the couch wishing I could take back what I had read and pretend everyone lived happi ...more
Laura Peden
Oct 22, 2019 marked it as to-read
This costs $25 on Kindle?!? And no bummer all-around.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story, set in Tennessee, will grab you and not let go until you devour the last word. A wonderful beginning for an author we should read for a long time.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This goddamn book is so goddamn good. Read it right now!!!
Kailey (kmc_reads)
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to the publisher for my free copy. This book broke me into a million pieces but it was so, so good. A very moving, emotional story. It's a quieter, character focused story - not a ton of action/plot happening but these characters will stick with you forever. Would highly recommend.
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book. So many feelings. It was very honest about the ability of people to change and make the best or worst of their situations. I might read it again and that's not something I do very often.
Kathleen Gray
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a gut punch of a novel about two young people living in poverty in rural Tennessee who make and then destroy their family. Lucy, an orphan since the age of 13, is all set to leave town and move to Knoxville when she has drunken unprotected sex with Jeptha, a talented musician from a family known to troubled by alcoholism (among other things). He's loved her since they were teens and is thrilled to learn she's pregnant (she's not as happy). Lucy gives up on Knoxville, marries Jeptha, move ...more
Jude (NYJudester) Fricano
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Lucy had walked into Judy’s bar dozens of times since she started working there six months before, but she had never felt so conflicted upon seeing the place. It was both the scene of her worst mistake and the source of this flickering sense of joy; she didn’t trust either emotion.”

For me this story was filled with the reality of despair and the longing for reality to be better. It’s sadness wove through as the melody of a twangy country song. Complete with tears, hope and reckoning
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-october
I was lost in this today and read it in one sitting. Holding On To Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne. Watching someone self destruct is painful. Watching someone think they can change someone is even worse. Seeing the combination create a tragedy is just heartbreaking.

Lucy & Jeptha have a rough upbringing in rural Tennessee. Now together by a mistake that binds them, you can’t help but wish their circumstances different. It’s not a romance - life is hard when you have nothing. But this
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m stunned. Speechless...
I grabbed this book for the library for three reasons.
1. It came highly recommended by staff at my local bookstore,
2. It’s a debut novel- my favorite kind, and
3. It takes place in Tennessee. I’ve had a real fondness for books set in KY & TN lately.
This book is well-written and character driven. It’s not particularly exciting. It’s a story about bad choices, the likes of which you’ve heard and read countless times. And then you get to t
Mikaela (Booklover1974)
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm heartbroken! This book is beautiful and haunting, in a quiet way. I love the characters, they're so flawed and real, and I wish I could have been with them longer.
When I read the last couple of pages I was sobbing.

I would say this is a love story, just not an ordinary one. This is the debut of the author and I can't believe it. The writing is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always real. Read it!

Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the free copy in exchange for an hones
Becky Zagor
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING writing and plot progression in this debut fiction work! I was hooked to the story and flawed characters from the start and eager to see what would unravel over time. Somehow she took a known story of two troubled folks making tough choices amidst an oppressive past and made it resonant in a deeply moving and novel approach. One of my favorites of the year and a MUST for true Southern fiction fans and folks speculating on the next great voice in fiction!
Heather Renee
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book!!! It gave me all the feels. I was drawn into this story and couldn’t put it down. It hit close to home having an alcoholic father (7years sober now and so proud) I was rooting for for Jeptha and felt let down so many time but just kept having faith in him. The last 1/4 of the book will just break you. I haven’t cried over book in years but this one just turned me into a mess!
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne has written a "small town romance" novel, a story that many will recognize from personal experience, or through acquaintances. The southern language sets its location, but the story is one that happens everywhere, as this young woman comes to terms with her situation, and tries to remedy it as best she knows how. Compassionate.
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne grew up reading, writing, and shooting in East Tennessee, with two brothers and one sister, and a wide assortment of animals who ran away often. After graduating from Amherst College, she worked as an editor at The Atlantic Monthly, fact-checking stories on topics such as rocket science, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, and autism. After The Atlantic, she work ...more