Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Book Review: Hold Tight, Don't Let Go

HOLD TIGHT, DON’T LET GO by Laura Rose Wagner is an unforgettable young adult novel set in Port-au-Prince Haiti during and after the devastating 2010 earthquake.
The story begins with a chilling description of the Haiti earthquake through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old girl named Magdalie. As she searches through the rubble of her home, the stark aftermath of her collapsed world soon becomes clear. The chapters are named with months and years beginning with the earthquake on January 12, 2010 through 2011. The story concludes in January 2020, ten years after the disaster.
Wagner does a masterful job describing life for Magdalie including her frustration, resourcefulness, and hope. The author was working on an ethnographic study when she experienced the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Her experiences led to this compelling and realistic portrayal of Haitian culture.
While Magdalie’s experience with a vodou priestess and the funeral of her Manman may seem alien to readers, teens will empathize with her frustrations about lack of cell phone access and feelings of jealousy when her cousin leaves for America.
This beautifully written coming-of-age work of historical fiction would serve as an excellent focal point for a discussion of the human-impact of natural disasters. Consider building a literature circle containing books related to other recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.
For background information, go to Encyclopedia Britannica at…/1659695/Haiti-earthquake-of-2010. Wikipedia also has an excellent article about the 2010 Haiti earthquake that provides background information for readers. Go to
Time Magazine also has an excellent series of articles. Go to…/…/packages/0,28757,1953379,00.html.
NetGalley ARC used for review