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Hold On by Alan Gibbons
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Hold On

by Alan Gibbons

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The star rating is a bit of a lie, with this one. I didn't like it at all, in the sense that it made me uncomfortable and unhappy. My sister wanted me to read it, so I did, but I didn't need to. The actual details of John's life don't really matter so much as the fact that this story happens, every day -- is happening right now. I just spent the whole day answering my sister's phone for her, in case the bullies called her again so I could try and tell them to back off. It's funny, because I've been in both John's shoes and in the shoes of his parents and teachers.

In a way, I think it's a true story. It doesn't have to have really happened in that place with those names and the exact circumstances for that.

It's definitely a book for younger readers. I'd say about age fourteen. It'd be nice to think it could change something, make one kid more understanding and ready to be Annie. At twenty, reading it, it makes me feel like the scared kid again. Maybe this is just the right time to read it and understand -- my parents have forgotten what school was like, at their age, and yet I'm grown up enough to understand a bit better. It's worth reading, I think, in an attempt to understand, even if I winced sometimes at the melodrama or the heavy-handedness. There was truth in it. That's why it gets three stars -- a balance between my gladness that such a story is told, and the discomfort from seeing myself and my sister in it.

I can't be less than personal about this kind of story, so I don't know how helpful my review will be to anyone else. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
I think this was the most painful book I have ever read. I don't mean at all that it was bad-- it was very well written, with plenty of variety in the style, but it was painful emotionally for me. I had to stop reading multiple times just so I wouldn't burst out crying. Suicide is a painful subject, but Alan Gibbons has done a wonderful job with showing how bullying can affect more than just one person. ( )
  dancingbacon | Nov 28, 2008 |
We hear this story in turn about from two sources – the diary of John, who we know from the start has died, and the recollections of school mate Annie. Although never a friend of John’s, they happened to meet some months before on holidays a long way from home. John is not someone she has paid any attention to - in fact she rather fancied one of the boys who turns out to have been tormenting John for years. But she learns from him something of the bullying he has suffered and sees first hand how harshly John’s father treats him.

Who is responsible for John’s death? Annie thinks she knows and returns to England bent on exposing the bullies. But could she be implicated? Her friendship with John stirred up feelings in him that were more than she wanted. Has she done the right thing? Can she accept that others have learned from this hard experience? Why didn’t John do more to expose the classmates who terrorised him? And did he really intend to kill himself?

Alan Gibbons stirs up emotions and asks us to put ourselves in the places of the major characters of this drama. Many of us will identify with the friends and teachers in the story who are very wary of causing a fuss, but also played their part. A gripping read. ( )
1 vote mthomson | Apr 16, 2008 |
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