Book Review: Touching New YA Fiction Novel from Local Author

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Emily Donovan, News Editor

Holding On and Letting Go, published last year by Pittsburgh local K.A. Coleman may at first appear to be just like any other young adult fiction novel. However upon further reading, the audience finds something similar to an Ellen Hopkins book. If you are familiar with Hopkins’ work, you know she provides realistic accounts of teenage battles with family, friends, drugs, and more in her work. Holding On and Letting Go does much of the same; nothing is romanticized in K.A. Coleman’s breakout novel.

The book begins with main character Emerson Caulfield’s return to her hometown. After her younger brother, Peter, passed away at the age of seven, her parents whisked her away to France, where she has been for the last two years. Now sixteen, Emerson has changed drastically since the last time she’s been home (and not for the better). Throughout the novel, she struggles to accept the person she’s become, while her friends try to understand she’s not the Emerson they used to know.

The book is told from two different perspectives: the chapters alternate between Emerson and her best friend, Matt. Emerson’s point of view provides direct insight into a person struggling with depression, while Matt’s point of view adds an eyewitness perspective to the story. If you can’t relate to Emerson yourself, you can probably relate to Matt if you have known someone in your life like Emerson. At the very least, the reader sympathizes with Emerson, a girl who has lost more than any teenager should.

I was surprised by how much this story affected me. I honestly didn’t have very high expectations for a little-known book published by a small company. The only thing I could find Lodestone Books guilty of was more typos than the average novel. Their choice in author and story was a good one, though, and Coleman’s story more than makes up for any grammatical errors. After reading the blurb, I thought I was prepared for the emotional journey about to take place, but I soon found I was mistaken. Within the first few chapters, I was tearing up over Emerson talking about her little brother. Of course, the emotions continued to run high throughout the remainder of the novel, as it is easy to imagine some of the things that happen to Emerson happening to any one of us.

The realism in Holding On and Letting Go stood out the most to me. “Two steps forward, one step back” was a recurring theme throughout the book. It was nice to read something that told the truth for once– the truth being life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Bad things happen to good people, and dealing with the consequences is often a difficult task. But just because tragedy hits, that doesn’t mean there can’t be a happy ending.

If you have lost all hope for YA literature, give Holding On and Letting Go a chance to restore some of your faith. This accurate portrayal of the types of issues teens have to deal with will make you love the genre again. Anyone who enjoys drama and romance will be glad they chose to pick up this book.