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Hermione

The Mystical and the Magical

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Keep Holding On - Susane Colasanti On every review I’ve read so far, people have mentioned that they’ve been through what Noelle has been through. That high school was indeed a rough time for them, too, that they were bullied, but they made it. They made it onto the other side. They survived.

But here’s where I differ.

I haven’t been bullied. Yet.

I’m still in school. I still have my life ahead of me. I know that since I have about 10 more years of schooling left, in that time I'm sure to be bullied--for my weight, for my religion, for what I wear, for who I am, etc. There are countless reasons. But I've been lucky so far and haven't gotten any sort of treatment yet. I am extremely lucky.

As I get into my last years of high school, I may or may not be bullied. I may or may not even witness bullying. I may even spend the rest of my years in luxury, ignorant of this problem that have been presented in teens all across the U.S. and other countries.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that this book has opened my eyes—I’ve known about the problem. I’ve known it, but I haven’t done anything. But here’s what it has made me realize—we all say that when we notice bullying, we’ll step up. That we’ll stop it because it’s wrong and no one deserves to be put in such misery. And this is what I used to tell myself, too: that if I ever saw anyone being bullied, I’ll put a stop to them. I’m five feet and don’t tower over anyone in my school, but I’ll make sure to stand up for justice. For what’s right.

But here’s what I’ve realized: I’m scared.

I’m a coward. I’m not dauntless, I’m not strong. I haven’t been bullied, but I’m so easily intimidated. I strive to be like everyone else. I strive to fit in, just like every teen. I strive to not ever take the attention of anyone. I strive to blend in, to make sure no one notices that I stick out.

So when I think back over my intentions of “saving the victim,” I realize that I may not be able to. I may be too scared. I may just turn the other way.

I think this is one thing that a lot of people find amiss—for example, you say that when you’re faced with a burglar in your home while you’re having a sleepover, you tell your friend “Okay, I’ll hit him in the groin and when he falls you’ll step on his hand with the gun and pluck it from his fingers.” And then your friend replies: “Sure, and we hold him down with our weight, until the cops come.” But when the actual thing happens, you’re struck dumb. You’e numb with fear. You scramble for your life, instead of trying to save someone else.

It’s funny, because I used to plan this with my friends all the time. We’d have nights where we’d stay up so late all the while afraid of the Man with the Gun. There was this one time when I was having a sleepover and we were watching a Disney movie in the living room when we’d heard something from my friend’s balcony—she lives in an apartment on the second story—and thinking it was a burglar, we scrambled out of the living room. I was the oldest there.

And you know what I did?

I rushed to be safe first.

I didn’t care that my friend’s sister, who was nine years old, had fallen behind, tripping and scrambling to catch up with us as we ran towards her mother’s room. I was behind with her but I didn’t bother to help her up—I just ran forward. I feared for my life, even though it was nothing (just a huge plant that fell on the balcony cuz of the wind.) And now, afterwards, when I think about it, I’m filled with such utter shame. I can’t believe I did that. I can’t believe I left her behind. If there had been a real burglar, she might’ve been injured, or worse. Because I neglected to do what I had to do as the oldest one there.

So, anyway. This might be the reason I found this book so empowering—because it reminded me of something. It might also be because I haven’t ever been bullied, so in a way I can’t connect with Noelle on any sort of level. I don’t have any experience to judge on Noelle on any of her actions. I can’t call her a coward because I may be one myself. I can’t call her weak because I may be that as well.

But I love how she stands up for herself, I love how she finally thinks It’s ENOUGH. The ending seems a little be rushed because of how suddenly everything magically gets pieced together—bullying ends, her relationship with Julian, her sudden, fierce courage, etc.—but I’m willing to overlook that because of the strong messages that are supplied by this book.

I must also comment on the supporting character: Sherae is amazing. A bit of the time I think she may be too good to be true (I still have yet to meet someone like her), but so supporting nonetheless. I was a bit peeved when Noelle couldn’t offer any help on her problems when she had them, whereas Sherae helped her so much—again, I have no reason to judge Noelle, but I may be getting a tad bit more modest here. It’s just … GAHH. I really liked Sherae. I liked how she handled her problems.

Julian is almost a good character. I’m glad the focus wasn’t all on the romance and instead on the problems highlighted in teens. He is so so caring. I wish I could meet a guy like that—one who would remember all the things I like and incorporate it into a house made just for me. And he’s an architect! Exactly what I want to be! [squeal]

Honestly, a great book. I definitely feel refreshed after reading this. It provides such an amazingly powerful message to teens. If I find any troubled teen, I'd definitely recommend this book to them.

And although this may sound corny I’d like to finish this review off with this: KEEP HOLDING ON, BROS. IT GETS BETTER.

P.S. Did I mention that I shed tears over this? Not many, but enough to make me sniffle and wipe my eyes? Okay, I admit, I'm not much of a crier in real-life, but I tend to have my moments with beautiful prose. This one did it for me.