Review: Hold Fast

Hold Fast

by Blue Balliett

Find it at: Your library | Amazon | Indiebound

Published: Scholastic Press (March 1, 2013)

Recommended reading age: 8 & up

In a nutshell: The Pearl family may not have much, but they have their books, their stories, and they have each other. Dashel, Summer, Early, and Jubie (Jubellie) Pearl are so close knit they came up with a nickname Dashsumearlyjubie. Father Dashel, also called Dash, is a library page at the Chicago Public Library, Summer takes care of the children and the family’s tiny one room apartment in Chicago’s south side. Older sister Early is just like her father, a lover of words. And little brother Jubie is loud and full of energy like most little brothers. Dashsumearlyjubie have big dreams for the future until the unimaginable happens.

Dash disappears on one cold winter day leaving  the family frantic. Their funds are drained from their bank account, and without an income, no extended family to go to, and a startling break-in while the family is home leaves the family no choice but to check into a shelter. Throughout all this commotion, still no sign of Dash. Early suspects there is something more to the project Dash was working on which involved collecting and documenting rare books for the library, so she decides to investigate. After a series of coincidences and with the help of an old friend, slowly the mystery starts to piece itself together.

When I started reading this book, I was really into it. The wordplay, the Langston Hughs references, the mysterious disappearance of Early’s father that was somehow linked to the largest diamond heist known in history – I tore through the pages. But half-way through, I slowly started to lose interest. For me, the plot moved like molasses in the later half until the last 10 pages of the book, and was then wrapped up in a clean package with a bow on it and then it was over. It left me a bit unsatisfied. I did like that the majority of the book took place at a shelter. The life of the homeless is unfathomable, and I think it is important for kids and adults alike to be reminded of those hardships. The format of the book was unique and fun to read. I also enjoyed Early’s character. The hope and strength she possesses despite their situation, especially when her mother starts to give up on Dash or finding a job, and slips into depression. Her character is strong and her voice crystal clear.

Don’t take my word for it: “Another fine offering from Balliett, get this one into the hands of her fans.  It will also be great choice for reading aloud in classrooms with its wordplay and strong African-American characters and family.” – review from Waking Brain Cells

Extras: Learn more about author Blue Balliett on her website.

Source of book reviewed: Review copy provided by Scholastic Press.


2 Responses to “Review: Hold Fast”

  1. Brandy says:

    I had the same reaction to this one. Exactly the same.

    • Rebecca says:

      I’m glad to hear you felt the same way. After I wrote this review I looked at a few other reviews from various publications and they all raved about it. To me, it started strong out of the gates and then completely lost steam and coasted the rest of the way. I was a bit disappointed…

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