This book is about suicide. Caitlin’s best friend, Ingrid, kills herself, and suddenly Caitlin doesn’t know how to live anymore. She’s frozen in time. The past is too painful to look back at, the future is too uncertain.
I don’t want to say much more about the plot, but there is a diary involved. That sounds a little cliched when I put it like that, but it doesn’t feel that way in the book. For one, I don’t believe the diary helps Caitlin heal any. It actually seems to make her feel worse for a long time. It keeps opening the wound. Also, Caitlin can’t really bear to read much of what’s in there, so she skips over a lot of it. The healing process unfolds after a long time and very naturally – completely unrelated to this journal. I appreciated that.
I’ve read a lot of books lately that have dealt with suicide or death of a loved one. In Saving Zoe, Echo reads through her sister’s diary to cope with her death. In Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah leaves an audio suicide message to each person she blames for her suicide. I kind of thought, having read so much of this sort of book in the last few months, that I might be burnt out on the subject. I thought Hold Still would feel redundant. It didn’t. There was a certain maturity in this book that I’m not used to. It said things such as:
- Good people can be total jerks given the right situation. Even when they know they’re being total jerks, they might just continue doing so because doing otherwise makes them too uncomfortable.
- Parents often come up with bizarre methods for trying to help you cope. Sometimes, though, they surprise you by understanding things in a way you just can’t see from your vantage point.
- Saying “I have to go away because otherwise I’ll hurt you” is just an excuse, just a way for someone to forgive themselves for going away. The motive is far more selfish than unselfish.
- When someone kills themselves, loved ones are left feeling far guiltier than they actually are.
- Everything we do affects the people around us, so we need to be careful. At the same time, however, each person will interpret our actions according to their own point of view, so it’s impossible to know how our each act affects others. We have to be careful, but we also can’t take full responsibility for someone else misunderstanding us.
This was a good book. I hope it doesn’t get lost among the myriads of books out there dealing with suicide and loss. It deserves to be read.