Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Hold Still" by Lynn Steger Strong

This cover is AMAZING! It may have been the very first thing that drew me to this book. I love it. After gushing over the cover art I did go on to read the description, which goes as follows:

Evoking finely wrought characters reminiscent of those by Claire Messud or Elizabeth Strout, debut author Lynn Steger Strong traces the anatomy of a mistake and the weight of culpability. When Maya Taylor, an English professor with a tendency to hide in her books, sends her daughter to Florida to look after a friend’s child, she does so with the best of intentions; it’s a chance for Ellie, twenty and spiraling, to rebuild her life. But Ellie fears she’ll only disappoint again, and in the sprawling hours of one humid afternoon, she makes a mistake that she can’t take back. In two separate timelines—before and after the catastrophe—Maya and Ellie must try to repair their fractured relationship and find a way to transcend not only their differences but also their more troubling similarities. Heralding the arrival of a profoundly moving new talent, Hold Still explores the depths and limits of a mother’s love.

I requested this book from Netgalley because I was drawn to the premise of the story. I like books when I know something has happened that changed the lives of the characters involved, but we (the readers) don't know exactly what the event was. I also like when the story is told from two different points of view. In this book in particular, it was two points of view from two separate timelines- both past and present. 

This story revolves around the relationship between a mother and her daughter. It is a tough relationship where neither party can see eye to eye. Maya's story (the mother) is told from first person perspective AFTER the event. Maya is a college professor, a bookworm, and seems to check out of her children's life when the going gets tough. Ellie (the daughter) tells her story leading up to the event. Ellie is in her late teens- rebellious, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and trying her best NOT to live up to her parents' expectations. 

Maya decides to send Ellie to Florida to help take care of a friend's child. Maya sees it as a fresh chance for her daughter. To leave behind the bad choices she has made in NYC. However, just as it seems Ellie is getting her life together for the better, she makes a horrible mistake. Through Ellie's eyes we see the state of mind she was in leading up to her fatal decision.

Years later Maya's story tells the aftermath of the event. A family left in turmoil. Where deep emotions of guilt and resentment plague the family. 

Lynn Steger Strong's debut novel is full of well developed characters. The way she wrote such overwhelmingly hard-to-describe emotions and actions into each and every character was amazing. She truly has a way to get emotions out and onto paper. Each and every character, both with large and small parts in the story, were believable. Excellent writing. 

Hold Still is a powerfully devastating story about complex relationships that you will definitely want to add to your 2016 TBR list. It is due to be released in March 2016.

Thanks to Netgalley and W.W. Norton & Company for allowing me to read and give my honest review.

Happy Reading!

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