Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Judgment, No. 8
In Hold Still, a girl deals with the suicide of her best friend. She finds the girl's diary and discovers things she'd never known--like how her friend suffered from depression, and what drove her to the end. But she's still here and she's the one expected to move on (when all she wants to do is...hold still).
I'm a little trepidacious about getting too excited. The tag line threatens melodrama. And not that I want to see a slit wrist or a girl grunged down in black, the artwork seems a little...lustrous. But I'm not obsessively cynical; I believe in hope and happiness even after heartbreak. I'm just scared of how that all comes across in a 250-page novel.
The risk with YA is melodrama. A book like this can become very tiresome very fast. Especially with first-person narration. Not to sound callous, but it's hard to sit through an already-depressing book with a very depressed narrator. Purely meditative novels can feel trite and become boring. The whining can become unmotivating. Think of Thirteen Reasons Why: that worked because the narrator's shock at his involvment; he wasn't the heartbroken one, so it was refreshing. Yet I could barely get through Speak because I got tired of the narrator--I wanted her to just get out of her head and talk already. So depressing themes paired with introspective narrators feel risky.
Also, these books play up a big revelation at the end where the sun is suddenly shining and everything is grand and she's able to move on in a big way (usually with the help of a new, ever-patient boyfriend). As a reader, you do want that closure, but it sometimes feels like a betrayal to the rest of the novel and the serious themes of suicide and loss. But it's hard have some sort of tangible plot when it's really just about coming to terms with reality. Since the climax is the beginning (the suicide), what do you build up to, you know?
So I just hope that this journey feels real enough that the ending--which is bound to be happy, because it has to be--seems natural. After all, death shouldn't ruin a life; it should invigorate it. There should be a newfound will to live and make it matter.
But I'm getting all philosophical. Over a YA book that cost me three dollars. Silly, silly me.