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Read All The Things! Reviews

A mini-me version of Read All The Things!

Holding on to Zoe

Holding on to Zoe - George Ella Lyon I've decided that it's impossible for me to review this book without giving away the plot.

This novel is about a teenager, Jules, who gets pregnant. She gives birth to a perfect baby girl, Zoe. However, Jules's mother and friends can not see Zoe and do not believe that she is real.

I have seriously conflicted feelings about this book. It's one of those books that took my brain a long time to process. I did enjoy it. The plot is quickly paced. The characters are easy for the reader to sympathize with. The story is thought-provoking enough that I read it in a few hours. I liked Jules, and I so, so badly wanted her baby, Zoe, to be real. It would have been interesting to read a story about a good teenage parent. I think there's a stereotype in our society today (possibly perpetuated by the Teen Mom shows) that teenagers make horrible parents. I don't believe that. In the majority of cases, it's not ideal for teenagers to have babies, but it happens, and teens can be successful parents. I really wanted Zoe to be real and Jules to be a successful parent. Only a very good book could make me want something so badly for a character.

The main problem for me was that I never believed that Zoe was real. I believed that Jules was pregnant. I believed that she had an ectopic pregnancy. I didn't believe that the baby was born because I stopped trusting Jules after her visit to the doctor. Her belief that the baby was waiting to make sure that it was welcome before moving into the womb was so bizarre that I immediately knew that Jules was an unreliable narrator. I trusted the mother and friends (who couldn't see Zoe) more than I trusted Jules. 

My next problem was Jules's psychological reasons for inventing Zoe. Jules was molested/raped. When I read that, I felt my heart sink, and I went, "Oh, it's another one of those books." Molestation/rape seems to be a very common reason that characters are mentally ill in young adult fiction. It's starting to bother me. A lot. Not everybody who was molested/raped has a mental illness. Not everybody who has a mental illness was molested/raped. I'd like to see YA authors be a little more creative with their mentally ill characters. 

I did like that Jules wasn't cured of her mental illness at the end of the book, but she did make a lot of progress in very few pages. Her sudden leap toward getting better felt unrealistic.

That probably sounds like a lot of criticism, but this isn't a bad book. It's a compelling, captivating, and intense book. I couldn't put it down; I needed to find out what happened to Jules. Even with its problems, this book is worth reading.