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Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Hold Still
y Nina LaCour with Illustrations by Mia Nolting

Publishing Information: Dutton: New York, 2009
ISBN: 9780525421559 / 9780142416945(PB) / 9780143145042 (Audio)
: 304 p.
Ages: 14 & Up

Caitlin and Ingrid did everything together, but when Ingrid inexplicably takes her own life, Caitlin is left to wonder why.  With Ingrid’s journal, she sees a different side of her friend. 

As she reads the journal left by her best friend, who committed suicide, Caitlin struggles with powerful feelings of loss, sadness, and guilt, but friends and a first love help her to cope with her negative emotions.

Book Talk:
Anyone who has ever had a best friend knows that it is a wonderful bond. You spend a lot of time together, share good times and secrets. But what if your best friend was in trouble and he/she didn’t tell you? What if your best friend was depressed, or even suicidal?  How would you know? In Hold Still, by Nina LaCour, Caitlin thought she knew her best friend Ingrid; she thought she knew all of her secrets. Caitlin is shocked when Ingrid inexplicably kills herself.  Hold Still is the story of Caitlin’s journey of grief and healing through reading the journal Ingrid left for her.

Subject Headings & Major Themes:


Awards & Reviews:
Capitol Choices, 2010
Georgia Peach Award Nominee, 2011
MIssouri Gateway Readers Award Nominee, 2012
South Carolina YA Book Award Nominee, 2012
Texas Tayshas Reading LIst, 2012
Virginia Readers' Choice Award Nominee, 2012
William C. Morris YA Debut Winner, 2010
Young Adult Library Services Assocation Best Books for Young Adults, 2009

Booklist, October 15, 2008
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December 1, 2009
Horn Book
, April 1, 2010
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2009
Library Media Connections, January 1, 2010
Publishers Weekly, August 31, 2009 (Starred Review)
School Library Journal,December 1, 2009
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, February 1, 2010 (Starred Review)

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Why does Caitlin’s photography teacher, Ms. Delani act the way she does towards Caitlin? Why do you think she’s afraid to open up about her feelings?
  2. What part do Caitlin’s photographs play in her healing process?
  3. Why does Caitlin start avoiding Dylan? What purpose does her relationship with Dylan serve at first? What improves about their friendship the second time around? 
  4. What does the old theater represent for Caitlin? Why does she visit it so often?
  5. Why does Caitlin build the tree house? How does building it help her grieve and heal?
  6. How did Caitlin’s parents help her to cope and heal? What would you do differently if you were in their shoes?
  7. How does the journal help Caitlin heal? Why does she choose certain parts to photocopy for friends and family? Which parts does she “edit” out and why?
  8. What are the advantages of keeping a journal? What purpose could a journal serve for the writer? 
  9. Would you want your best friend to see everything written in your journal? What parts would you hide from him/her?
  10. Research warning signs of suicide. Did Ingrid display any of these signs? Was prevention an option?
  11. Prepare a presentation for classmates or peers about the warning signs of suicide and start a discussion about the importance of keeping lines of communication open; perhaps invite a school social worker or psychologist into the discussion.

Related Websites:
Author's Website -
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention -
Suicide Prevention in Rhode Island -
The Smaratins Suicide Prevention and Hotline in Rhode Island -
Selected Topics on Suicide and Depression in Teens -

After the Death of Anna Gonzales by Terri Fields, 2002
By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead
by Julie Anne Peters, 2010
Chinese Handcuffs
by Chris Crutcher, 1989
The Death of Jayson Porter
by Jaime Adoff, 2008
by Carol Lynch Williams, 2010
by Ellen Hopkins, 2007
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, 2006
Stay with Me
by Garret Freymann-Weyr, 2006
St. Michael's Scales
by Neil O. Connelly, 2002 (2004 RITBA Nominee)
Suicide Information for Teens: Health Tips about Sucide Causes and Prevention
, 2005
Suicide Notes
by Michael Thomas Ford, 2008
The Power to Prevent Suicide: A Guide for Teens Helping Teens
by Richard E. Nelson, 2006
Tears of a Tiger
by Sharon M. Draper, 1994
Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher, 2007
by Susan Vaught, 2006 (2009 RITBA Nominee)
Walking Naked
by Alyssa Brugman, 2004
What Happened to Cass McBride?
by Gail Giles, 2009
by Laurie Halse Anderson, 2009 (2011 RITBA Nominee)
You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn, 2008

About the Author:
Nina LaCour is a high school English teacher and former bookseller. Her stories and interviews have appeared in various journals and magazines, including 580 Split and Juxtapoz. Her first screenplay, If It Isn’t Perfect, was made into a short film. A San Francisco Bay area native, Nina lives in Oakland, California. Hold Still is her first novel.

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair