readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Featured Title: HOLD STILL, by Nina LaCour

This week, our featured title is one that deals with how we move forward in the face of grief. HOLD STILL, just out in paperback, would be a beautiful, worthy pick no matter what, but we think it particularly dovetails with this month's theme of resilience.

The book has received rave reviews from trade journals and readers alike, and with good reason - steady pacing, authenticity, and wonderfully-rounded characters make for a compelling read. Don't believe me? Here's what School Library Journal had to say:

After losing her best friend, Ingrid, to suicide, Caitlin is completely immobilized. Unable to function, and refusing to visit a therapist, she begins the long journey to wellness alone. During this year of heart-wrenching, raw emotion, Caitlin finds Ingrid's journal, which not only reveals her descent into irreversible depression, but also serves as Caitlin's vehicle for renewed hope in the future. The book is written with honesty, revealing one's pain after the loss of a loved one. Caitlin learns, with the help of new friends and her parents, that there is life after Ingrid.

I'm thrilled to welcome Nina LaCour to readergirlz!

Recently I did a Q&A on my blog, and a woman named Melissa wrote in to ask if I found it difficult to write about grief. This is what I told her:

"Yes, Melissa, it was really hard. On one hand, it was difficult because I wanted Caitlin’s emotional state to be believable–I wanted her to be appropriately stunned and confused and sad–but I also had to keep in mind that people would (hopefully) be reading this, and that most readers (myself included) can only take so much angst. Angst is a good thing, but it can only take you so far."

My novel, Hold Still, is about a 16-year-old girl named Caitlin who has to face life—and high school—after her best friend’s suicide. It wasn’t easy to put myself in that situation and imagine what it would feel like to be her. But the novel isn’t as sad as you might think, and the joyful parts, when Caitlin is discovering the wonders of life again, feeling things she hadn’t felt before and gaining strength—those scenes were exhilarating to write.

I’m so honored to have my novel selected as a recommended read, and even more excited to know that it was chosen for the theme of resilience. Now, with a war that seems never ending, with the recent bullying and suicides, with the daily hardships so many people are facing, what better than a reminder than we can make it through tough times? We struggle and grieve, and then we pull ourselves together, and the parts of life we once took for granted we come to recognize as beautiful and important.

Thank you, Readergirlz!

Thank you, Nina, for joining us and for sharing your thoughts. If there is anything to be gained from grief, it's certainly the reminder not to take our happier times for granted, and coming out the other side of a traumatic experience is, as you say, a testament to our own inner strength.

So what about you, readers? Can you think of a time when grief or trauma forced you to call upon your own inner reserves, and maybe reminded you that you're stronger than you think? We all deserve to be reminded of that now and then - in good times as well as bad!


Unknown said...

Sounds amazing!

Little Willow said...

Hold Still by Nina LaCour was on my Best Books of 2009 list. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Life can be heavy when we are sad and grieving. Life can be heavy for those who feel. But it can also be so, so wonderful. Joy can make you lighter. Memories can make you smile. Life can make you sad, but it can also make you so happy you can't do anything but celebrate it. So celebrate it, and remember those we've known, and carry on for yourself, and for them.

Micol Ostow said...

Cari - it IS amazing! Read it!

And LW - thank you so much for that reminder to celebrate ourselves and our lives! :)

Melissa Walker said...

It's such a great book--I read it a while ago and it has stayed with me!

Nina said...

I'm so glad to be here with all of you! Thank you for all the beautiful things to have to say about Hold Still.

Little Willow said...

Micol: Thank YOU.

Cari: I second what Micol said: HOLD STILL is amazing.

Nina: Thanks for joining us here! :)

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Yes, thank you, Nina. I loved your guest blog.

I realized through Micol's closing that my novels are my attempt to learn through my struggles. Absolutely.

Hold Still is a beautiful work!

Erin said...

"the parts of life we once took for granted we come to recognize as beautiful and important."--yes yes yes.

holly cupala said...

Welcome to Nina! The new cover is just so beautiful. I can't wait to read this and have heard such great things about it.

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