Friday, October 25, 2013

Book Review: Holding On by Rachael Brownell

Kicking off my book review series, I have a fantastic YA novel by Rachael Brownell: Holding On. I was a little hesitant to review this one, having not having read a YA book since I was a YA, but I'm so glad I did.

Book: Holding On
Author: Rachael Brownell
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Genre: Romance/YA
Rating:  [  [  [  [  ]

About the Book:
For five years, Becca has been struggling to hide her feelings for her best friend, Brad. Now she finally has a chance to move on. She's in a new city, she's attending a new school, and she's met the first guy besides Brad who's held her attention in a long time. Not only is Ethan attractive, he's an amazing tennis player, and he might just be Becca's match on and off the courts.

Brad has loved Becca for as long as he can remember. Now that Beca's family has moved two thousand miles away, Brad may finally be ready to lay his heart on the line and do whatever it takes to hold on to Becca.

But is Brad too late? Or with Ethan's secret drive Becca back into Brad's arms Torn between her love for Brad and the promise of something new and exciting with Ethan, Becca has an almost impossible choice to make, the choice between letting go or holding on.

My Thoughts:
I mentioned I haven't read a YA novel in a long time. Well, since my 33rd birthday is looming large next month, let's just say it's been a couple of years. Holding On took me right back to high school, though, and in the best way possible. It's not just because Becca, the main female protagonist, went to school in Michigan like I did. It's because the author created such a tangible and complex emotional struggle, drawing out those same feelings that I had as a mixed-up teenager who once had a crush on her own best friend, but hated the thought of the relationship-destroying potential that came with that crush.

The character development was really interesting for me. The story is in first person, so, of course, we see everything develop through Becca's eyes. And I found myself really relating to Becca. Her emotions were so well crafted that I was automatically drawn in, and really felt the conflicted impulses along with her. Because, boy was there conflict. Both guys, Brad and Ethan, really have a lot going for them, and to be honest, I'm not sure that I would have known which one to choose either. I'm glad it wasn't my decision--I could see why she was drawn to each of them. But without spoiling anything, the one she ended up with was the one that she needed--he brought out the best in Becca, in my opinion. Together, I thought they were stronger, and really complemented each other. But you'll be guessing on which one that was until the end.

And lest you think this was all teenaged angst and emotional upheaval, it wasn't. There was external conflict, too, and one scene in particular that came out of left field so hard, it literally made me flinch when I read it. In a good way. Plus, the attraction between characters--it just simmered. Hot stuff, but tastefully done, and I wouldn't hesitate to let my 16 year-old read it. In fact, since Holding On's official release date is December 3, I intend to use a little of my Christmas bonus to grab a copy for said 16 year-old.

The only negative I found in the book, and I only mention because of the whole "fair and impartial" thing, was that there were some editing issues--some past/present tense inconsistencies and a couple of really minor typos. But unless you're anal-retentive and the type to send snarky letters to the newspaper about that misplaced comma in the third paragraph of section A6, it will not detract from the power of this story.

After reading Holding On, I've been inspired to broaden my little primarily Romantic Suspense/Historical bubble. I'll be checking out some more YA offerings (recommendations are welcome!), as well as watching for Unglued, the sequel to Holding On, because this book was awesome.

About the Author:
Rachael Brownell was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she currently resides with her boyfriend and son. She is a graduate of Grand Valley State University where she studied Advertising and Public Relations. Upon graduating, Rachael accepted a position in the Hospitality industry working for Darden Restaurants. She has been working for them for the past twelve years and counting.

In 2005, Rachael met the love of her life, Jeremy. Then, in 2007, they welcomed their only child, Nicklas. When her son started Kindergarten, Rachael found that she had extra time on her hands and decided to try her hand at writing again, something that had been a passion on hers for a long time.

In December of 2012, Tate Publishing picked up her first book, Holding On (Holding On, #1). It will be released 12/3/2013. In July of 2013, Tate Publishing picked up the sequel to Holding On, Unglued (Holding On, #2) and is planning to release it in the late spring of 2014.

When she’s not working, building Lego’s or writing her next book, Rachael enjoys scrapbooking, photography and is an avid reader.

Connect with Rachael Brownell: 
Rachael's Website
Facebook (there's a Giveaway!)
Twitter @HoldingOn2013
GoodReads Author Page

Buy the Book:
Currently available in paperback and e-book through Tate Publishing
Official release date December 3, 2013

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of Holding On, in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

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