Book Review,  Reviews

Hold On – Alan Gibbons

“I know what I have to do. Now I’m home I mean to get justice for John. I just need to work out how to do it, how to make his killers pay. It may come as something of a surprise, but this is no whodunit, I know exactly who’s to blame for his death. I know their names. I know where to find them.”

Annie and John knew each other before Annie moved to Canada for a year, not very well, but they each knew who the other was. So when chance puts their families in Florida at the same time and the two families bond its no wonder they get to understand each other pretty well. They keep in touch but little more than a month later John commits suicide. Annie is now back in her hometown, back in her old school and although everyone else seems to have moved on, Annie is determined to uncover the truth about what happened to John, about what pushed him over the edge. 

If there’s one thing in fiction I love more than anything else its cotemporary emoitional thrillers. Its book that make you think and get your emotions riled up. Its books that make you want to tear everything apart and make it all right again. And Hold On is one of those books.
The story is amazing. Annie wants revenge, she wants justice for John and everything he’s been put through and she cant understand how everyone else is just going about their daily business. She was detached from everything at school and the lives of everyone other than John and that made her feel more strongly about what had happened than anyone else. The friendship they gathered on holiday was perfect in John’s eyes and she felt strongly about him too, she was pretty much his only friend other than Peter and I felt bad for him because of that too. I loved the way the chapters from Annie’s present were interspersed with John’s diary entries from certain days and how that gave me as a reader more of a insight into what was going on in his life too. It was such a hard book to read sometimes, more John’s diary entries than Annie’s narration, but it was one that made you think about how just small things from other peoples’ point of view may be massive to the person its happening too. 
The book really opens your eyes to what things can mean to others and what bullying can involve. I wasn’t bullied as such at school but I remember a tough time in Year 8 which wasn’t pleasant and another in the later years where I was teased to the point which could probably be classed as bullying, that only stopped when a friend stuck up for me. The things that happened to me were nothing compared to what John went through and in all honesty I can image these things happening, there are mean people out there who would do the things that John’s bullies do to him. However the book opened you eyes to the point that forgiveness is sometimes warranted and people can make mistakes. Matthews aspect in the story was tough to follow because I honestly thought he deserved some forgiveness, he tried to make things right with John but both John and Annie weren’t having it, that must have been awful for him.
Friendship and family features heavily within Hold On as well, with the family lives of both characters effecting their personalities, their actions and their happiness. Friendship is a great topic as Annie has a brilliant friend in Bryony, which has an effect and Lauren and Katie’s friendship is integral too, being Annie and John’s little sisters and being so close. Of course Annie and Johns friendship was more than important to the storyline, it was vital but the other threads made me think about John and the what ifs… what if he had Annie as a friend sooner? What if he had more friends? 
Like I said, Hold On is a book that really makes you think. I do think Annie came across as scarily obsessed at times and I think John may have caused some problems with not confiding in people and closing himself off so much, but he can’t really be blamed for that at all! 
Hold On really touched me, I couldn’t put it down and needed to know the whole story and how it all ended. I actually loved the ending and I was really happy with its conclusion. I would definitely recommend this one for many readers and it should really be a must for any bullying awareness themes in libraries. 
Hold On was first published in 2005 by Orion Children’s Books, it was recently released as an Indigo title, on September 6th. My copy was sent to my by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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