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Hold Still

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An arresting story about starting over after a friend’s suicide, from a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction.

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.

230 pages, Hardcover

First published September 25, 2009

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About the author

Nina LaCour

22 books5,518 followers
Nina LaCour is the Michael L. Printz Award-winning and nationally bestselling author of six young adult novels, including Watch Over Me and We Are Okay; the children's book Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle; and Yerba Buena, a novel for adults. She's on faculty at Hamline University's MFA in writing for Children and Young Adults program, and teaches an online class of her own called The Slow Novel Lab. A former indie bookseller and high school English teacher, she lives with her family in San Francisco.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,525 reviews
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
May 15, 2012
”You might be looking for reasons but there are no reasons.”

It was this simple line that made me realise that I not only liked, but respected this book.

Out of context, it is an ambiguous, awkwardly phrased sentence that makes my fingers itch to shove in some punctuation. In context, it’s one of the most powerful statements in the entire novel. It’s a deeply insightful expression of understanding, an extension of empathy, distilled into one potent line.

Mental illness is not a choice. And had this book set out to explain Ingrid’s death with a list of reasons it would have been doing not only Ingrid, but others who experience mental illness, a gross injustice, invalidating the fact that depression is a disease.

Fortunately, Hold Still approaches the topics of mental illness and suicide with respect and honesty. I have shared my thoughts previously on the subject of grief in fiction, and I don’t hesitate to say that I find it an extremely polarising theme. My response as a reader largely hinges on the manner in which it is presented – and when I perceive this to be at all gratuitous, it tends to make me punchy.

But Hold Still is not only a sensitive portrayal of grief, but a beautifully written story about healing and hope. There’s an articulate, literary style to La Cour’s writing, without sacrificing the authenticity of her teen narrator’s voice.

The story opens in Summer, in the wake of Ingrid’s suicide, and follows Caitlin through the year - coming to terms with her best friend’s death, and navigating life without her. Ingrid leaves behind her journal for Caitlin to find, and through its pages Caitlin must confront the reality of Ingrid’s illness and subsequent suicide. In the process, Caitlin gains greater insight into her friendship with Ingrid, and the person Ingrid beyond Caitlin’s interactions with her.

I really appreciated La Cour’s integrity in writing her characters here – showing that their friendship was not perfect, and that understanding this was fundamental to Caitlin being able to grieve and forgive.

Aside from Ingrid’s journal, which forms part of the novel through handwritten notes and drawings, Caitlin’s character development is facilitated through various relationships with other characters. One of the greatest strengths of the novel, in my opinion, lies in La Cour’s crafting of these complex dynamics, growing the connections in a manner that feels organic and fluid. Caitlin’s parents, her photography teacher, Ingrid’s not-so-secret crush, the new girl at school, and persistent classmate Taylor all play a role in Caitlin’s internal journey. It’s through these nuanced relationships that Caitlin begins to heal and move forward.

I enjoyed the role of photography in the story, particularly as a means of expression for Caitlin (as well as Ingrid and their teacher). While the discussion of imagery in the novel occasionally felt a little didactic, it effectively communicated Caitlin’s emotional state and played a pivotal role in her grief for Ingrid. The building of the treehouse was a slightly less subtle motif for the themes of the novel, but all the same it added an interesting dimension to the character of Caitlin, and I’m all for contemporary YA protagonists who moonlight as carpenters.

However, while this is Caitlin’s story, it’s Ingrid that left the most profound impression on me. In Ingrid, La Cour has created a complex and very real character, a girl of contrasts, showing the world one side of her face and hiding the other away. Ingrid’s pain and sadness are palpable in her letters, yet I think the book did her justice in developing her as a character, and not merely the inciting event for Caitlin’s journey. Above all, I admire the choices La Cour made in her depiction of Ingrid: honest and unflinching, while also according her the dignity of not being entirely defined by her suicide.

Hold Still is an impressive debut, and the strength of La Cour’s writing complements the weight of the themes. It’s a moving, sad, and ultimately hopeful story. Recommended.

Cover Note: On the subject of photography – the cover image is the work of UK-based photographer Rosie Hardy
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.3k followers
April 19, 2021
Baby, when a book makes me tear up in public...that's how you know it's real.

I'm the type of emotionally unavailable where you've only one time cried in front of your best friend of several years, and also the only time you did was mostly by accident (a closed door was opened), and also that was in spite of the fact that you lived with said friend for three of those several years.

So for me to cry is already momentous. But in PUBLIC?! Now we're really getting wild.

Nina LaCour is like Emily Henry or Sarah Hogle or Sally Rooney in that she writes books that make me feel simultaneously better and SO much worse. For Emily Henry and Sarah Hogle, that is because they write these little perfect realistic worlds that are completely unattainable.

For Nina LaCour and Sally Rooney, that is because they perfectly capture how icky and tiring and cumbersome it often feels to be in my head and live my life, and then those characters sometimes get happy endings. (Sometimes they don't, because Sally Rooney is a monster I'm in love with, but usually they do.)

This is so hard to read, but in a good way and it made my heart hurt but in a mostly good way too.

Bottom line: Ouch!

(Note: I didn't want to detract from the ~flow~ I had going while writing this review to note what I didn't like, but I also hate four-star reviews that have nothing bad to say, so: I thought the first half of this kind of outweighed the second in terms of making things seem a-okay, and some horrible things happened that I don't think were given the proper time or consideration, and some of these relationships seemed to spring out of nowhere fully formed, as though from Zeus' forehead.)

(But this was mostly very good.)


i didn't even have time to mark this book as currently reading.

for a status update obsessive like myself, that's high praise.

review to come / 4ish stars
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,073 followers
July 8, 2019
“You might be looking for reasons but there are no reasons. The sun stopped shining for me is all. The whole story is: I’m sad. I’m sad all the time and the sadness is so heavy that I can’t get away from it.”

As my first Nina LaCour book, I thoroughly enjoyed Hold Still. Caitlin is left reeling after the suicide of her best friend Ingrid; when she discovers Ingrid’s secret diary she finds a way to be close to her again. Through her diary she discovers a side of Ingrid she never knew, full of secrets and pain. Caitlin has to find her way through the darkness, to discover to how live without her best friend.
Told with heart breaking honestly, this book was a fascinating and realistic portrayal of teen suicide, and what it is like for those left behind, and how they can move on. This includes family, friends, teachers – suicide affects so many lives and this book shows that in a heartfelt way.
A quick read, that flicks between Caitlin’s perspective, and the diary entries from Ingrid’s. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

“I imagine they are issues we share. A pervasive feeling that something is missing. Darkness. Vacancy.”
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
August 13, 2019
"How amazing it is to find someone who wants to hear about all the things that go on in your head. You just think that things will stay the way they are. You never look up, in a moment that feels like every other moment of your life, and think, Soon this will be over."

Caitlin and Ingrid were best friends. They were practically inseparable, sharing a love of photography, music, laughing at themselves and others. One night they were talking about their futures, and the next morning, Ingrid was dead, having committed suicide.

Ingrid's death shakes Caitlin at her very foundation. Ingrid didn't leave a note, but Caitlin realizes there were so many times where she should have said something to Ingrid when she noticed her erratic moods, her cutting herself, her crying jags. Could she have saved her friend?

When school resumes in the fall, Caitlin has to navigate her way without Ingrid for the first time. She's a jumble of emotions—anger, loneliness, guilt, grief—and doesn't like being an object of curiosity to her classmates, who want to know how Ingrid killed herself and whether she left a note. Even their favorite photography teacher treats her like a pariah.

Then Caitlin finds Ingrid's journal under her bed, where Ingrid presumably left it for her to find. As she reads Ingrid's words, she begins to understand more clearly just how troubled her friend was, how she struggled to find self-worth, tried to will the boy she liked to reciprocate her feelings, and how she wanted Caitlin to understand what she was feeling but was afraid she'd treat her differently or worse, not want to be friends with her.

"Maybe there is no right thing to say. Maybe the right thing is just a myth, not really out there at all."

Nina LaCour's exquisite, emotional debut novel, Hold Still , chronicles Caitlin's first year of living without her best friend. It is a year of trying to comprehend this loss, wanting to lean on people yet not wanting to let anyone else in or be vulnerable, and a year of understanding there was little that could have been done to prevent Ingrid's death. It's a story about how to find the strength to move on, to identify rays of hope again, and realize that making new friends isn't betraying the memory of the one you lost.

This book is also a tremendously candid look at the effects a suicide has on the lives of those left behind. From parents to friends to teachers to crushes, everyone is affected in some way, and LaCour beautifully explores the range of emotions and actions that are caused by such a tragedy. I expected this book to make me cry and it certainly did, but it wasn't as maudlin as I feared it might be—it is powerful and immensely poignant.

I've been a fan of LaCour's writing since reading You Know Me Well , a book she wrote with David Levithan, a few years ago. Last month I read We Are Okay , and was again captivated by her tremendous storytelling ability. She is a writer whose work you really need to read, for its beauty and its emotional power.

On the off chance that someone reading this review is in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, please know that there are people standing by to listen to you and help you. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, the Trevorlifeline for LGBTQ+ Youth at 866-488-7386, or if you are in the U.S., you can text "HOME" to 741741, which will reach the Crisis Text Line.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Inge.
347 reviews885 followers
February 9, 2017
When I read Thirteen Reasons Why and complained about the believability of the story, several people came up to me and said, “Read Hold Still instead”. It took me a few years, but I never forgot about the book recommendation. Finally, here I am, I’ve read the book, and I gladly join the group of people who tell you to read Hold Still instead.

Whereas Thirteen Reasons Why lacked in depth for me, there’s plenty of it in Hold Still. One evening, Caitlin and Ingrid are talking about their futures, and Ingrid says, ”I’ll go wherever you go”. The next day, Ingrid is dead, having committed suicide, and leaves a devastated best friend behind. This is where the book starts, which is a really powerful beginning – it is a true portrayal of raw grief; it is sad and depressing; and it makes you feel as numb as Caitlin does.

The hardest, but also the most interesting, parts were when Caitlin read through Ingrid’s journal entries, and we slowly get a feel of Ingrid’s struggle over the years, of the way she was terrified of losing her mind, of her depression and her hesitation to inform her friend about this. Caitlin was more or less clueless – she knew about the cutting and the depression, to a certain extent. But she didn’t know about the pills, or Ingrid’s raw thoughts that resonated so deeply with me. If only she’d confided in Caitlin, maybe things would have worked out differently. That’s probably the part that hurts the most.
“ You might be looking for reasons but there are no reasons. The sun stopped shining for me is all.”

The first part of the book vividly shows the journey of a teenager as she deals with grief and suicide. Caitlin’s actions feel numb and automatic, she hides and pushes everyone away, she leaves her parents baffled as they try to be there for their hurt daughter. Slowly, though, we see a beginning change in Caitlin. The overall tone of the book is sad, but there’s also that notion that change can be beautiful, and that’s where the beauty of the novel lies.

This isn’t an exciting, eventful tale; there’s not a lot going on. Yet there’s so much happening, although most of it is inside of Caitlin as she learns how to deal with the shock, as she finds her best friend’s journal, as she finds a new friend at school, as she grows closer to the popular boy, as she builds a tree house, as she learns to find comfort in her photography. There is tremendous growth in Caitlin as the story progresses, which is beautiful to behold, until eventually, there is acceptance.

There’s only one point of issue for me, and that’s that I wanted more. I wanted more of Ingrid, more of her journal entries, so I could get inside her head the way I was inside Caitlin’s. Having said that, it still felt incredibly real, and what we got from Ingrid was believable and good.

I’m not an expert on mental health books, but I know this is a good one. It’s poignant, evocative, and illustrious, and does the subject justice. Definitely a story that will linger.
Profile Image for l..
491 reviews2,071 followers
January 7, 2022
I want to say that this book broke me—because in many, many ways, it is exactly what it did—but what it did much more than that is made my heart lighter, more at peace, and so much more … whole than it was before I read it.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
April 25, 2021
“Maybe there is no right thing to say. Maybe the right thing is just a myth, not really out there at all.”

I don't need to tell you how much I loved We Are Okay and that You Know Me Well has a firm place in my heart. Hold Still was a beautiful book, too, although it did not quite meet my expectations. It's beautifully written and has many quotable lines. It has that poetic sense of loneliness and sadness that Nina evokes so well through her writing. It's a quiet but powerful book. I also adored the illustrations in the book. They're beautifully done and really add to the story. And yet. I think if I had read this book prior to We Are Okay I would have loved it a little more. I went into this book expecting a sapphic story, hence I picked it as a queer read for Pride Month. While there is a lesbian side character, the main character and everyone else is straight. Granted, it was a mistake on my side. I could have simply read the blurb. But when it comes to beautiful covers and authors that I love I usually don't care what the book is about, I know I'll read it anyway. And just because an author is queer doesn't mean that all their stories have to be queer, too.
This book was first released in 2009 and while queer YA was starting to become a thing, LGBTQIA+ stories are seen as difficult to sell, which means that queer authors didn't - and still don't - get to tell their stories in full queer glory.

All that aside, it didn't captivate me as much as her other books. Yes I enjoyed it and yes I was moved and yes I definitely recommend it. It's a close call, but I opted for three stars rather than four, because I don't think Hold Still left a long-lasting impression on me and I know I won't be dying to reread it in the future.

Also, tws for suicide and depression. It's one of the book's main topics and there are very graphic scenes of self-harm and suicide. I can't believe that this new edition of the book comes without trigger warnings. Seems very irresponsible to me.

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Profile Image for solanne.
196 reviews479 followers
August 27, 2021
“Maybe there is no right thing to say. Maybe the right thing is just a myth, not really out there at all.”

Upon finishing this, I found myself curled on the floor of my bedroom, hands cradled to my stomach, eyes closed, simply taking in life one breath at a time.

Hold Still paints a picture of grief in vivid, unflinching colour. It doesn't shy from the ugliness of loss or attempt to smooth over life’s jagged edges. It snags at the sadness buried deep in the pit of your stomach, but it does so with tenderness; Caitlin’s story is told with the bittersweet truth of someone who knows sorrow intimately well.

The first few pages were like a blow to the chest, driving all the air from my lungs. Nina Lacour writes in a way that cuts deep — I rarely encounter authors who manage to evoke such palpable heartache through simple ink and paper. Such bruising hurt. But when it comes to Nina, I can’t get enough of it. I drank up her words like all the water in the world couldn’t quench my thirst.

One of the most striking qualities of this story is the characters. Every single one is presented with astonishingly profound nuance. Their relationships aren’t perfect, and the acknowledgement of these flaws is fundamental to Caitlin’s ability to mourn her best friend. Caitlin’s relationship with her parents, with her teacher, with Ingrid, with herself, evolve with tender care. They aren’t rushed, or even necessarily given a clean, happy ending. But the way in which each unfolds feels organic in a manner that is difficult to capture no matter what themes a novel deals with.

I think what moved me most about this story is that in a strange way, this book offered me such a sense of release. Because at the end of the day, this book touched me in places I didn’t know needed healing. It held me and told me that I would be okay again. And I can’t tell you just how much I needed that.

Hold Still isn’t a forceful, deafening story. It doesn’t crash and burn, demanding the world’s attention. Rather, it is a quiet one of recovery. Of grief. At times, of anger. It is deeply honest in its portrayal of loss. But ultimately, Hold Still is filled with cautious hope. I know that this book won’t be for everyone, however I hope it will find a home within many hearts as it did with mine.

Content warnings: suicide, grief, self-harm, depression
Profile Image for Nina.
755 reviews278 followers
June 22, 2019
*Book #1 for Summerathon: Read a book while drinking your favorite summer drink.*

I really enjoyed Hold Still and managed to read it in less than a day because it was such a quick read. However, while I enjoyed it, I also kind of thought it would move me a little more. Nonetheless, I still highly recommend you check it out!

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Profile Image for Christian.
289 reviews327 followers
August 1, 2019
My advice: Listen to a really, really sad Daughter song while reading the final 20 pages. My heart feels like it's been shredded by a cheese grate.

rtc, I need a moment to gather my thoughts and to know what I actually want to say instead of just writing a love letter to Nina LaCour in which I express how eternally grateful I am to have discovered her for myself.

* * *

Me: Maybe I should read something happy for once-

My brain: Here is another book about loss!

Me: Yes why not.
Profile Image for Aly (Fantasy4eva).
240 reviews120 followers
April 21, 2012
I love the cover! *pets book* Isn't it just gorgeous? ;)

I think I had such a good feeling about this book for such a long period of time, that I was bound to be disappointed in some way or the other. Don't worry, though. It had some very redeemable qualities.

The premise.

Caitlin's best friend, Ingrid, committed suicide. The thing is, the two were pretty much inseparable. Both were exceptional at photography, and it was this talent of theirs which I enjoyed being explored in the novel. Their passion towards taking on something they so loved, the spur of the moment pictures they often took, was just so wonderful and inspiring to me.

They didn't go out of their way to make friends. Everyone knew to leave them alone. But now that Ingrid is no longer with her, apart from grieving, she is left with this confusing shame and guilt, with parents she does not want to let in, with a teacher who was kind to them both all year around but now pretends she does not exist. That's a whole lot to take on for a teen. If I'm to talk about Caitlin herself? Well, she's not very likeable, I suppose. She's often rude and insensitive, but there's a lot of character growth towards the end, so I couldn't hold a grudge. Especially after all that she's been through.

There is the skater-boy from her school, though. Taylor. He's sweet, and curious. He gives her space, but is always there to let her know that he's more than willing to be there for her when she's ready to let him in. He comes across as kind, patient and understanding. He is everything she needs now and in the near future. But with all that's going on, is that even possible?

The writing is quite simple, and the characters aren't the most developed out there. But I do think the book gives you enough to at least keep you intrigued by a few of them. Ms Delani, Ingrid, Dylan & (Henry!) were those characters for me.

HOLD STILL had some definite highlights for me. And those would be the lovely illustrations and the diary entries. When you read those entries, it's actually creepy how real Ingrid seems to you. How clear her voice rings through your ears. And what's so damn sad about her is the sheer knowledge of knowing that she is dead. Of knowing how sad and lost she is. It's hard not to tear up. Especially her last entry, I just chocked up. Yes, I wasn't loving it during the first half, but gradually I saw clear improvement during the second. The emotional reaction I had to the book (make me tear up and you've made an impression already) and the last 30 pages or so, that were just so fantastic, were enough to add on that extra star and make up for the shaky beginning.

And hey, am I the only one who is curious about Henry? Not many seem to mention him, but I doubt he was acting so shifty throughout the book without reason. Maybe I'm just over - analysing here and there is no reason for his behavior, but he just seems so sad. Although it's only until a certain moment that it becomes clear that there's more to him. It wasn't until she sat with him on that fountain, that a random thought occurred.. (and yes this might be absurd)

Like I said. I could be completely off the mark there.

What Caitlin does at the end I just could not do it. I don't know how she has it in her, but gosh I would cling on to it with all my might and just hold on to it for years to come. But that's me, way too sentimental for my own good ;)

Dear Jayson,
Why don't you love me yet?

“The sun stopped shining for me is all. The whole story is: I am sad. I am sad all the time and the sadness is so heavy that I can't get away from it. Not ever.
<-- From Ingrid's Diary.

Favourite Quotes

And maybe most of all I shouldn’t have turned away from all of the cuts and burns and bruises she gave herself. I should have noticed all of them because they were a part of her. She deserved for someone to see her as clearly as they could. To make that effort to understand. My best friend is dead, and I could have saved her. It’s so wrong, so completely and painfully wrong, that I walked through my front door tonight smiling.

I hold it carefully, this artifact of myself. I need a few more minutes to let all of this sink in.
Ms. Delani rests her hand on my shoulder. “They bring her back a little bit,” she says. “I wish they could bring her back completely.” I want to squeeze my eyes shut but I can’t, not with the door opening. Before everyone streams in, she says, “They bring you back a little bit, too.

I want to tell her that she failed me, too. I’m thinking about the first day of school—I was sure that she would make things better, that she would treat me as she used to.
I say, “I needed you, too.” My face burns.
“Yes,” she says. “I know. I’m so sorry.

And I want to tell you about everything but I can't because I couldn't stand for you to have that look on your face all the time. I just need you to look at me and think that I'm normal. I just really need that from you.
Profile Image for Heather.
292 reviews13.9k followers
January 24, 2011
Comparatively speaking, Hold Still is well done. It is always refreshing to see a young adult author, a new one at that, who isn’t reduced to writing about paranormal romance, popular clichés, or originating as a geeky outcast only to later ditch the glasses, swap out the t-shirt for a sundress and become part of the popular cliché. Hold Still actually attempts to flesh out a harsh reality, a reality that sadly, many teens may one day be forced to face. With that said, I couldn’t give it more than three stars.

In my opinion, Hold Still isn’t honest enough. Let’s face it, contrary to the realities that even the best YA books present, many teenagers can’t boast of having even one friend, much less several. There are many teens who eat lunch in the bathroom stalls because no one, not even the fellow outcasts will be seen with them and they can’t bring themselves to eat alone publicly. Teens that are taunted mercilessly in the halls and can’t brag of having a secret artistic talent that makes them oh so special. Teens who don’t have that one great teacher take notice of them. Teens who are just sort of there, blending in to the background. They spend their weekends alone in their rooms, watching MTV all weekend until they are forced to face the torture that is known as high school once again. They don’t have boys clamoring to take them out, much less the hottest boy in school, and they don’t have girls who try repeatedly to be their friend. Just once I would love to see this teen girl, this normal but ever ignored teen girl, written about. I have yet to find her. What would happen to this girl, if the one friend she had, the one person who bothered to invest in her, took her own life and left her alone? We have yet to know, as that book has not been penned. What has been penned is Hold Still a half hearted attempt to address this very question.

Crap, what is this heroine’s name? I have momentarily forgotten it and I just read it, Jesus Christ. Its there on the tip of my brain…Screw it, I’m going to look it up.

Caitlin! Now I remember, our heroine and narrator’s name is Caitlin. Judging by the fact that I couldn’t even remember her name, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that despite her tale of grief, she isn’t memorable and fails to make much of an impression. She is a cardboard cut out of the typical YA girl. She has a lone friend, Ingrid, who takes her own life. Now Caitlin is alone, but as luck would have it, there is a new girl in school who tries to befriend Caitlin, who Caitlin spurns, but later becomes friends with. Ha, my ass, tell me one person this has actually happened to? Girls are not the forgiving sort and I say this as a female. If you spurn a teen girl, there is no forgiveness to be had for you unless she too is equally desperate for a friend. And even if you do become besties, she will never forget that you rejected her. That is just the way it works. But I digress, when Caitlin isn’t rejecting the one person who would have her friendship, she is angsting over how to sabotage her photography, which she is brilliant at. Furthermore, she has Taylor, a popular, good looking boy paying special attention to her and wanting to be there for her in a flirty yet unforceful way. Again I say give me a break. From the time of puberty, boys are filled with nothing but ulterior motives that they hope will lead to sex.

So, while I’m glad that Hold Still attempts to tackle a serious issue, I wish it would have told it in a way that is true to life, devastating and miserable, leaving a wound that only a large amount of time can really begin to heal. Lovely artwork though!
Profile Image for Faseeh Ilahi a.k.a Sunny.
66 reviews28 followers
April 28, 2019
So I finished "Hold Still" by Nina LaCour.

Rating: 4/5 🌟

This book basically follows two friends i-e Caitlin and Ingrid, who are best friends for a long time. They both have enjoyed their life to the fullest and had many memories.
But Ingrid was keeping something from Caitlin due to which she ended up committing suicide.
The story follows Caitlin, how she dealt with her best friends death. .

It was really emotional and I literally had tears in my eyes.

It was kind of slow for me but I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for cel ✼ readwithcel.
236 reviews444 followers
January 26, 2022

that's it that's the review.


me 2 weeks later: i changed my mind i have Thoughts

“you might be looking for reasons but there are no reasons.”

grief can feel a lot like drowning. its even more suffocating when you encounter it at a younger age; punches even harder when the person gone is young too.

hold still is the story of caitlin and ingrid. one night ingrid tells caitlin that she’ll go wherever caitlin goes but the next day - gone. ingrid’s suicide pulls the rug out beneath caitlin’s feet, drastically shifting her worldview overnight. amidst this, caitlin finds a journal that ingrid has left for her and through it, she’s goes back to ingrid’s innermost thoughts leading to her final days, and learns to move forward.

when i think of grief at young age, bea’s monologue from rwrb always comes to mind. how it goes all the way down to the bottom of what you know how to feel, and rips it open and tunnels even further below to make room. how you always carry some part of it inside you. how profound & lasting it feels with such a small frame of reference to process it.

sometimes there’s guilt, too. grief takes so much of what you know and paints it in a different light. you follow along as caitlin revisits past locations - schools, parties, cinemas - and wonders if she could’ve done more, noticed more signs, bridged a gap that she may not have even realised was crumbling, said the right words instead.

but maybe there is no right thing to say, that it’s just a myth that doesn’t truly exist. you feel for caitlin because that loss is so familiar that you want to reach in and tell her: its okay, you did your best, even if it doesn’t feel like that sometimes.

which is why grief is also lonely. you feel this void surrounding caitlin even as she’s surrounded by those who love her. how isolating it feels when your life becomes vastly different from your peers, and it just changes what you know and how you feel about being young - does any of it matter?

but yes, it does still matter. caitlin is loved not in spite of that grief, but because that simply becomes a part of her. and that loneliness? everyone hurts in different ways but you are never truly alone.

there are so many facets to grief and lacour captures all of them so realistically, not just here in hold still but in her other books too. it’s blunt yet sensitive; honest yet thoughtful. her books are quiet and raw, like little unflinching whispers.

hold still is a look back at memories of a person no longer here, wishing you could bring them back, but eventually holding onto those memories to bring /yourself/ back. and it really solidified nina lacour as the queen of grief in my heart.

content warning: depression, suicide, self-harm

“the way life changes. the way people and things disappear. then appear, unexpectedly, and hold you close.”
Profile Image for Janina.
214 reviews527 followers
February 7, 2011
This was the third book I read about suicide in a short amount of time (and the second in a row), and it was the one that touched me most on an emotional level. Nevertheless, I think I’ll now move on to some lighter topics ;). I can only take that much …

Hold Still is a quiet, but noteworthy book. It tells the story of Caitlin, whose best friend Ingrid commits suicide. The only thing she leaves behind for Caitlin is her last journal, with drawings and entries that speak of depression, loneliness and finally the loss of hope for better times. Nevertheless, Caitlin feels left alone with her feelings of guilt and anger, not understanding why her friend never confided in her about her sadness and pain.

Despite the fact that Ingrid is dead, I really felt her presence in this book. She is in the photos Caitlin takes, in her memory and in her journal entries. She is portrayed in so many facets: The talented artist, the friend and daughter, the reckless teen. I felt so sad that she was gone. There were a few scenes that made me cry, simply because they were beautiful yet there was something missing. When Ingrid writes in her diary
”this is what i want so don’t be sad. you might look for reasons but there are no reasons. the sun stopped shining for me is all. the whole story is: i am sad. i am sad all the time and the sadness is so heavy that i can’t get away from it. not ever … i don’t want to hurt you or anybody so just please forget about me. just try.” (she's obviously not a fan of capitalizing letters)
I was sitting in front of my book, bawling my eyes out. How can someone wish others would forget her?

So, although Caitlin’s story about moving on and finding new friends sometimes felt a bit unrealistic (in terms of: The new girl at school of course wants to be friends only with her and isn’t offended when Caitlin pushes her away. The popular guy falls for her and reaches out to her. Her parents are all understanding and try to help her no matter how stupid she behaves), Hold Still is a book that lingers.

I wanted to add something about the cover: I simply adore it. The colours are so striking in their different shades of blue and I love that it's blurred to show movement - in contrast to the title.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,459 reviews8,561 followers
April 18, 2015
3.5 stars

Hold Still revolves around Caitlin, a high school junior whose best friend, Ingrid, dies by suicide. Ingrid leaves behind a journal filled with words and illustrations, and it forces Caitlin to reconsider what she thought she knew about her best friend. But with the help of her family and new friends, Caitlin moves on to embrace a new life consisting of self-discovery and hope. And with Ingrid's journal, Caitlin puts together the pieces of her friend's death, just enough so she herself can learn how to live again.

Hold Still draws its strength from Caitlin's voice and her relationship with Ingrid. Ingrid's journal entries and Caitlin's reactions to them felt authentic and raw; Nina LaCour's depiction of mental illness balances honesty with hope and includes an appropriate, unsettling amount of detail. While clunky prose and some odd adverb usage drags down parts of this book, Caitlin's thoughts and actions carry the story to its completion, and her character gives an intimate, memorable look into someone who has lost her best friend.

Other parts of Hold Still felt incomplete to me, almost as if the book could have used one more round of revision. I had a lot of questions about the other characters in the story: why do Dylan and Caitlin trust each other with such ease? What motivates Taylor and Caitlin's relationship, and what gives Taylor enough complexity to make up for his all-too-attractive appearance and oh-so respectful personality? How does Taylor and Jayson's friendship factor into the story, and how does Caitlin manage to reconcile her relationship with her parents with almost no conflict?

Overall, a moving novel I wanted just a little bit more from. I would recommend Hold Still to fans of YA contemporary fiction and stories that pertain to mental illness. The book's brevity reminded me of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, one of my favorite books, and I see potential in LaCour's prose. I look forward to reading more of her writing.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,162 followers
January 22, 2013
If the breathtaking cover of Hold Still hasn’t already captured your attention, the beautiful writing inside certainly will. LaCour’s debut is an ambitious piece, taking on grief, confusion, and the swirling unknown of despair that leads to teenage suicide. While I can’t say that this is an easy read, because the sadness in it is practically overwhelming, it is a very well-written and powerful novel, one that every lover of moving prose, three-dimensional characters, and realistic approaches should invest their time in.

When our novel begins, Ingrid, Caitlin’s best friend, has just committed suicide. Needless to say, the entirety of this novel is Caitlin’s journey as she learns to move on and continue living, despite the gaping hole in her heart. Now, I’ve read my fair share of grief novels and, from my experience, they usually involve road trips, hot guys, or just escaping. As much as I enjoy and simply love those books, Hold Still is a far more real experience because, admit it, as a teen, what are the chances of you taking off in a truck across the country with a ridiculously hot guy, too? Zero. Thus, I found Caitlin’s journey, although far more depressing than I originally anticipated, being a much more realistic portrayal of teen grief.

In my eyes, the strength of this novel lies in Caitlin. LaCour gives Caitlin many tools; she allows her to find Ingrid’s journal, full of her deepest thoughts; she allows her to make a new friend in school, one who has also experienced loss; she gives her understanding parents who only want to see their daughter emerge from her numb stasis; and she even gives her a concerned classmate, one who wants the best for her. Yet, despite all these people willing to help Caitlin and the objects of Ingrid’s that she finds to help her understand her friend, they all somehow play a very minimal role in the novel. Instead, this book is all Caitlin, all her interpretations of Ingrid’s short journal entries, all her confused feelings and bad moods, all her slowly coping with this unexplainable grief.

Caitlin isn’t an easy character to like. For one, she’s closed off from others, her narration is deeply saddening, and she pushes away others. Yet, her growth throughout the novel is gradual and evident, which I loved. Perhaps best of all, for the reader at least, is that the grief that Caitlin feels, the same grief that seems to be pressing down upon us as we flip the pages, choking our words and enveloping us in darkness, recedes. LaCour is such a brilliant author that, truly, I was so very numb while reading the first half of this, but, like Caitlin herself, I slowly began to thaw. Even more than her prose, LaCour’s depiction of teens, the conversations Caitlin carries with her parents and her photography teacher, her blooming romance with the school’s most popular guy…it’s all so very believable.

Ultimately, I cannot recommend this novel enough. I am still blown away by the depth of some of the relationships in this story, the truly individual arc of growth, and just Caitlin herself. I feel like I’ve crawled into her skin since I know her so well, her passion for photography and to make a tree house, her parents, her friends, her worries, her aspirations, her heart… Hold Still is a contemporary that just cannot be missed. It is deep, lovely, and moving in all the right ways and will undoubtedly change your expectations about teenage contemporary novels for sure.

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
Profile Image for Ashlee.
87 reviews
January 27, 2013
August 2010 - I'm not sure there are words to express just how much this book changed me. If there are words, they are too personal to share. This wasn't just a book to me, it was a lifeline I wasn't aware I was in need of, a way of understanding things I hadn't quite considered before. I started this book with a much different approach than I came out with, but I say that in the best way possible. Most reviews go on to tell you about the book, but you can read that for yourself. These reviews are ways for me to remember just how moved I was by individual novels. Hold Still easily worked its way to my list of favorites, and it didn't have to work very hard at all. I feel as if I should go on forever, but at the same time, I know nothing I say will give this book justice. You may read this book after reading this review and think, what the hell was that girl talking about, and that's okay; not every novel hits home to every individual. For you, this may be just another novel on your list of read books, but for me, this will leave a lasting imprint for many years to come - and I can guarantee I'll be reading this book over and over through the years.

Read again 1/24/2013 - It's been a while since I read it last and yet, it still made the same strong impact on me. Such a great book. Certainly on my list of top 10.
Profile Image for Jillian .
431 reviews1,780 followers
April 16, 2019
i picked up this book because i wanted read a book that focused on friendship, but i also knew going into this book that it dealt with a subject (suicide) that's always been hard for me to read about. while caitlin and ingrid's story broke my heart, this book filled me with hope and optimism and by the end of it a sense of joy. i don't suffer from depression now only anxiety, but i have had episodes of depression and i feel like nina la cour captured the heaviness of it through the journal entries. i feel like even though ingrid is gone she isn't really gone in the book which sort of blew me away. caitlin's grief, guilt, and anger is handled with such sensitivity and care. i have been where caitlin has been and it is something that doesn't ever really leave you but it doesn't completely define you. i'm so thankful for this book.

trigger warning: self-harm, suicide
Profile Image for Erik Fazekas.
479 reviews195 followers
February 1, 2020
Pre mňa jedna z naj kníh tohto roka.

Nina LaCour sa mi pomaly dostáva pod kožu a je to úplne nečakané. Ku knihe Všetko je tak, ako má byť som pristupoval z obavami. Kedysi som ju otvoril ešte v angličtine a prišlo mi to pomalé. Lenže keď sa mi na stôl dostala korektúra, stalo sa to, čo už toľkokrát: keď niečo čítate v rodnom jazyku, prehovára to k vám na úplne inej úrovni ako v cudzom jazyku, nech ho ovládate akokoľvek dobre.

Na knihu Pôjdem tam, kam pôjdeš ty som sa už tešil a tajne som dúfal, že z nej budem mať úžasný zážitok. Bol som pripravený na samotu a depku a smútok.

Výsledok? Kniha, z ktorej kričí život. Zároveň je to typická a klasická Nina LaCour na akú sme zvyknutý z poslednej knihy, ale zároveň je to kniha o túžbe žiť, aj keď sa nám prihodí niečo strašné.

Za mňa najlepšia kniha roka 2019.
Profile Image for Linna.
341 reviews161 followers
May 22, 2011
Stories about suicide aren’t the type that I’d pick up right off the bat– it can feel like I’m just being manipulated if the plot is nothing but grief and pain. And so when I saw HOLD STILL sitting on the YA shelf of the library, I glanced at it briefly before putting it back down. Which was a mistake, because this book is beautifully written and achingly gorgeous, and the ultimate message (I hesitate on calling it a ‘message’, because you don’t just come across messages in real life, and Caitlin’s story is too down-to-earth for that) is not about grief, it’s about hope.

The writing is deceptively simple, a little like If I Stay, except I could never really believe the characters in that book; impossibly talented musicians and perfect families and all. The characters in Caitlin’s world, and Caitlin herself, feel like people you could meet any day, walking down your street or carrying on with their lives, just regular, ordinary, realistic people. Which makes the tragedy that much more affecting.

In 200 or so pages, I experienced more emotions than I’ve encountered in books with much more time to develop their characters. Caitlin has hobbies and interests, but they’re not just tacked on for the sake of a trait; her photography, writing, and woodworking is meaningful. The story is a little fragmented, but the small moments here and there, but it’s painfully realistic. It’s still sitting on my shelf, as it has for a month or so. Every now and then I flip through certain pages and scenes, marveling at the writing. (It’s also very overdue, but nanana oh well) All the little moments come together so wonderfully in this book; small details play larger roles later on, until you reach the ending, which will make you cry. (In a good kind of way, I promise.)
Profile Image for Robyn.
1,779 reviews118 followers
October 2, 2021

This is my second Nina LaCour novel, the first was WE ARE OK, and now HOLD STILL.

Surprisingly, this was not as sad as I thought it would be, it was more weighty in the same way of something sitting heavy on your heart. But the pages were pulled by sadness in all directions until they were pulled to reach for hope and a fresh start. "Heart longing, heart sorrow, and heart hope" was the last line and the best description of this beautifully written story about a young woman who is stunned and wounded by the suicide of her best friend. Both girls are/were artists so there is a great deal of imagery used through the print work. I also loved the idea of the treehouse, as a source of recovery.

LaCour always strikes me as a very minimalist writer, never wasting words where they are not needed and able to choose the perfect word to express the right raw emotion. Her characters seem perfectly drawn with correct amounts of flaws and qualities making them worthy of your support. In the end, I am left again, quiet, still, and contemplative. A worthy read offered in lyrical language.

5 stars

Happy Reading!
May 24, 2020
This was really good not my favorite by her but I just realized that this is my 4th contemporary novel that I have read this month and it's my second least favorite. IK!!! I hate to say that but I didn't excpect it to be as heavy as it was. So for that reasons there are trigger warrings for self harming & suicide!
Also thanks to my friend Heather for buying this for me as a bday present last year I really did enjoyed it!(:
Profile Image for Sarah.
13 reviews2 followers
November 6, 2010
I've suffered through the first 50 pages, bored out of my mind. Every page reads like the diary of someone with a very uneventful life. I get that the chick is having a hard time dealing with the suicide of her best friend, but she lacks any emotion. She's numb, but she's incredibly dull too. The book is a constant stream of 'I did this. I did that.' It's just dry and I can't get into it. I flipped through the rest of the book to see if maybe the writing got any better or more interesting, but it's more of the same.

I just can't justify wasting any more time reading this book because it's boring me to tears. I'm taking it back to the library.
Profile Image for yourheartbooks.
230 reviews52 followers
February 9, 2022
Manchmal passt es und manchmal nicht. Bei mir und diesem Buch hat es leider nicht gepasst. "Ich werde immer da sein, wo du auch bist" von Nina LaCour konnte mich nur wenig von sich überzeugen.

Das Cover finde ich tiefgründig. Es versprüht auf mich sowohl Trauer, als auch Freiheit und Euphorie. Ich würde das Buch vermutlich nicht aufgrund des Covers kaufen oder unbedingt lesen wollen. Ich mag es wiederum sehr, dass die Farben ineinander verlaufen. Den Titel finde ich wunderschön. Der Schreibstil der Autorin gefällt mir einigermaßen. Ich habe bereits andere Bücher der Autorin gelesen und finde, dass Nina LaCour einen ganz speziellen und eigenen Stil hat. Manchmal war mir ihre Erzählweise zu ausschweifend. Meistens in Szenen, in welchen ich mir mehr die Gedanken der Protagonistin erhofft hätte. Ich finde außerdem, dass der gesamte Schreibstil zu deprimierend und eintönig war. Ich würde diesen daher nicht unbedingt in den Himmel loben. Er war okay zu lesen.

Protagonistin Caitlin ist mir leider kaum im Gedächtnis geblieben. Ich kann mich lediglich noch daran erinnern, dass sie gerne fotografiert hat. Das tat sie jedoch nur, weil Fotografie das Hobby ihrer verstorbenen Freundin war. Ansonsten hat Caitlin hin und wieder gerne Dinge aus Holz gebaut, aber mehr konnte ich mir zu ihrem Charakter nicht merken. Das finde ich ziemlich schade. Auch an weitere Charaktere erinnere ich mich nicht. Alle Charaktere wirkten auf mich zu flach und oberflächlich. Besonders an die verstorbene Freundin von Caitlin, um welche das Buch größtenteils handelt, kann ich mich überhaupt nicht mehr erinnern.

Die Handlung hat mich nicht mitgerissen. Vor allem die ständige traurige und niedergeschlagene Art und Weise der Geschichte hat mich beim Lesen deprimiert. Die Atmosphäre wechselte nicht und Caitlin hatte nur selten freudige Momente. Mehr kann ich zu der Handlung gar nicht sagen, da es keine nennenswerten Plottwists gab und das Ende mir irgendwie nicht im Gedächtnis geblieben ist. Das Buch hatte für mich kaum interessanten Inhalt, weshalb es mir oft schwer gefallen ist, überhaupt weiterzulesen. Ich habe bis zum Ende des Buches gehofft, dass Caitlin eine positive Entwicklung durchläuft. Allerdings ist dies nicht wirklich geschehen. Ich hatte von Nina LaCour erwartet, dass sie ihren Lesern mit der Geschichte eine Art Nachricht vermitteln will, wie man wieder Hoffnung schöpft oder sich weiterentwickelt. Doch beides konnte ich beim Lesen des Buches nicht erkennen.

Ich weiß nicht, wann man "Ich werde immer da sein, wo du auch bist" lesen sollte. Wenn man traurig ist, dann deprimiert das Buch bloß umso mehr. Und wenn man ganz entspannt die Geschichte lesen will, ist man ebenfalls falsch. Ich würde nicht unbedingt sagen, dass das Buch ein Flop ist. Es hat mich einfach nicht berührt. Von mir gibt's daher keine Leseempfehlung.
Profile Image for kav (xreadingsolacex).
177 reviews345 followers
April 29, 2019
Book Bound Society Read

trigger warnings: suicide, self-harm, depression

I am not a darling. I am a girl ready to explode into nothing.

Hold Still is Nina LaCour's debut novel, a heartbreaking young-adult contemporary that follows Caitlin Madison's life over the course of a year following the suicide of her best friend, Ingrid. Ten years after the initial release of this novel, a beautiful new paperback edition of this novel has been released with a moving author's note from LaCour, and edition so externally beautiful that it almost ties with the internal beauty of this heartbreaking novel that is also full of hope.

LaCour does not shy away from exploring the realities of Ingrid's depression - her pain, her sadness, her hurt (both internal and external). Yet she also does not shy away from exploring Caitlin's journey - a journey of grief and loss and guilt, but also of joy and strength and hope.

Somehow, the author expertly manages to stay sensitive to the girl who was in so much pain she felt she had to kill herself, but also to the girl who lost her best friend and cannot possibly understand why.

the sun stopped shining for me is all...i am sad. i am sad all the time and the sadness is so heavy that i can't get away from it. not ever.

The words that came from Ingrid herself were so powerful and so moving, they captured the experience of existing in deep depression in a way that can only be described as perfect, despite the heartbreaking theme they deal with.

Yet LaCour also develops Caitlin's journey and allows the reader to watch Caitlin grow from a girl who exists in a field of grief and loss to a girl who instills hope in the people around her.

LaCour writes a heartbreakingly beautiful (and I say beautiful not to romanticize the issue, but to acknowledge how the author wove hope and joy into a story that dealt with such intense subject matter) and honest portrayal of a subject far too often ignored in society.

I was in high school and then I grew up and I wrote this novel...Though it's about a tragedy, hope and resilience are its heart. May they beat for you, loud and clear, and help you to understand that as painful as life can be, staying with us is worth it.
Profile Image for Nomes.
384 reviews376 followers
November 6, 2010
I got this after reading oh-so-many stunning reviews. And it's one of my fave reads this year.

I am most astounded with just how deeply I sunk into these pages. Nina LaCour knows teens and she's pitch prefect at capturing them.

I personally not only related to Caitlin, but also to Ingrid (who, wow, she's dead from the outset, but her presence is so keenly felt throughout the pages).

It's beautiful and hopeful and brave and captivating and I wish I could go back to my teen self and give her this book. This is another one where the magic lingers in my mind. Stunning.
274 reviews332 followers
July 31, 2015
There are so many things that I want so badly to tell you but I just can't.

The first time I picked Hold Still up, I didn't finish it. I can't remember why or even how far I got into the book. It couldn't have been much at all, because this book was beautiful from the very first page.

I can't find the words to explain just how much I loved Hold Still. It's completely heartbreaking but still leaves you with hope.

The characters alone are enough to give this 5 stars. From Ingrid to Caitlin to Ms. Delani to Taylor, each and every character is well-developed. And they're real - so real it's painful.

From the beginning to the very last page, we get to see Caitlin's growth as a character, how she moves on from her best friend's suicide. Hold Still is a must read; I highly recommend it.

The sun stopped shining for me is all. The whole story is: I am sad. I am sad all the time and the sadness is so heavy that I can't get away from it. Not ever.
Profile Image for John Gilbert.
867 reviews94 followers
March 10, 2021

I really like Nina LaCour's writing style. This was my third and her first. Narrated by Caitlin, at 16, describing her life post the suicide of her best friend Ingrid. The story is never maudlin or exploitative, but an examination of Caitlin's feelings, as well as their families and friends.

This was written sensitively and was based on Ms LaCour's own experience of a classmate committing suicide when she was 14.

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