That night Ingrid told Caitlin, I’ll go wherever you go. But by dawn, Ingrid was dead and Caitlin was alone. Suddenly Caitlin has to deal with a completely unfamiliar life – a life without the art, the laughter, the music, and the joy she shared with her best friend. When she finds the journal Ingrid left behind, Caitlin gets a chance to learn about another side of her friend; and the journal becomes her guide as she deals with forging new friendships, finding first love, and learning to live without the one person who knew her best.
This book came up in my recommendations based on the fact that I enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Thirteen Reasons Why. It was definitely of the same genre and considered similar themes, although I would say that I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did the other two.
Caitlin narrates a whole year in her life following Ingrid’s suicide. Caitlin and Ingrid were inseparable best friends, who spent almost all of their free time together and shared all of their hopes and dreams with one another. When Ingrid committed suicide, Caitlin just couldn’t make sense of it – she thought she knew everything about her best friend, and can’t begin to understand what could have made Ingrid do what she did.
At the start of the novel, Caitlin is struggling to cope with life without Ingrid. She has to return to school without her best friend by her side, and deal with the knowing looks from her fellow students. Her parents are extremely worried about her, trying anything to get her talking about what she is going through, but Caitlin does not want to co-operate.
Then, one afternoon, Caitlin finds Ingrid’s journal hidden under her bed. She realises that Ingrid must have left it there for her to find. Finally, Caitlin sees that some of her questions might be answered. However, as she starts reading, it makes her miss Ingrid even more and she decides to save the journal, only reading it in small chunks so she can hold on to a small part of Ingrid for longer.
*** SPOILERS ***
Throughout the book, as Caitlin reads more of Ingrid’s journal, she begins to understand that she did not know her best friend as well as she thought she did. Ingrid had been hiding her depression and fears about life, partly afraid of burdening her best friend, and partly because Caitlin always tried to brush over any depressive thoughts that Ingrid shares. Caitlin wishes she had paid more attention when Ingrid’s thoughts turned sombre, instead of ignoring them and trying to change the subject. She realises though, that there is nothing she can do now, and the best way to honour her friend will be to move on and make the best of her own life.
*** END OF SPOILERS ***
As Caitlin is healing from her grief, she also shares a blossoming friendship with a boy in her class. He is seems much more understanding than the rest of her peers, and is always available to offer support when she needs it most.
Hold Still is a novel about learning to live after the loss of a loved one – how you can’t always blame yourself, and that staying stuck in the past will not help anything. Caitlin manages to take back control of her life, moving on with her friendships and hobbies, while still keeping Ingrid close to her heart.