If you have not read “Holding Still For As Long As Possible” by Zoe Whittal, do not read this review if you do not want spoilers! If you don’t mind, go ahead.
I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s for “Holding Still For As Long As Possible” by Zoe Whittal! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about, as found on goodreads:
“What is it like to grow into adulthood with the war on terror as your defining political memory, with SARS and Hurricane Katrina as your backdrop? In this robust, elegantly plotted, and ultimately life-affirming novel, Zoe Whittall presents a dazzling portrait of a generation we’ve rarely seen in literature — the twenty-five-year olds who grew up on anti-anxiety meds, text-messaging each other truncated emotional reactions, unsure of what’s public and what’s private.”
…Okay, I admit the summary doesn’t help clarify what’s going on here, so let me break it down for you:
There are three main characters—Josh, Amy, and Billy (who is a lady, and Billy isn’t her actual name but people just call her that because it’s a nickname). All three of these characters switch narrating between chapters, and it’s clearly stated at the beginning of each chapter as of which person is narrating, which is really helpful when understanding what’s going on. Josh, Amy, and Billy all have their own distinct voices, and so each of them were engaging to read.
What I found really interesting with the writing style was that in between certain parts of the book, there were descriptions of emergencies that Josh had to attend to, all of them ending with varying results. I had no idea this was meant to foreshadow the accident Billy and Amy would both get into close to the end of the book, and the fact that it built up to that and then surprised me with such a thing really was impressive. I also liked the generally happy ending that the three characters got, ending with Billy and Josh basically being together but still managing to be good friends with Amy as well. Usualy when we have love-triangle-esque situations, there is always one part of the love triangle that isn’t really as happy as the other two parts. To see Amy, who broke up with Josh, getting along with both Billy and Josh platonically is a really refreshing subversion to that type of ending.
I admit that despite my liking of the writing style as well as the characters, I thought that it was bit too slow-paced in the beginning. For instance, Amy doesn’t really have to deal with a broken heart until halfway through the book because the first half dealt too long with setting up the characters, their initial relationships and their initial situations. When these situations do change, it’s a bit abrupt, but after that it’s a bit better-paced for the rest of the book.
My favourite character in the book was Billy, mainly because I can relate to the anxiety she has, and her trying not to spiral into a full-out panic attack (or sometimes even trying to get herself out of those panic attacks) in the book, and the way she describes feeling it definitely made me feel in touch with her and understand her the best.
Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars!
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