Hold On by Alan Gibbons
Because of the issues Hold On explores, this review has been written in support of Anti-Bullying Week.
John Sorrel is dead and Annie knows who his killers are and she wants them to pay. She’s been away in Canada but now she’s back and she knows what happened because John had been e-mailing her. She’s found his diary too and she’s so sure that she knows what happened and why – but is she right? And what is she going to do about it? Will that make things any better for anyone?
|Hold On - Alan Gibbons|
Hold On explores the complex issues surrounding teen suicide, bullying, portioning blame, seeking answers and loyal friendship. It tackles these issues from the perspectives of the person being bullied, John, the school bullies and the people who John left behind – especially Annie.
Any novel about teen suicide is always going to be chilling and this one is no different. However, Hold On also conveys messages of hope for a different outcome for people who are involved in bullying either as the victim, the bully, or an onlooker. The loudest one is ‘speak out’. Don’t bottle things up, don’t try to be the tough guy on your own, and don’t shy away from the truth because you’re afraid. Also, don’t be afraid to change. I imagine most people will identify with some aspects of this story and may find that either comforting or a wake-up call.
Small quibble, but I occasionally got a bit muddled about the timeframes in the story – but it does all come together and you can figure it out easily enough. Also, the eight year olds in this novel sounded years older than any eight year olds I’ve met.
While it is an issues novel, Hold On is also a quick read with a compelling storyline and a couple of twists and turns. It deals with heavy issues in a forthright but sensitive way. The interest level might be more suited to secondary school readers but the writing is accessible to younger readers too.
Publication details:This novel was originally published in 2005.
This edition: Indigo, 2012 edition, London, paperback
This copy: received for review from the publisher