Author: Rachel Davidson Leigh
Publisher: Interlude Press
Length: 270 Pages
Category: Young Adult, Paranormal
At a Glance: I love YA books, and Rachel Davidson Leigh perfectly captured the mood, energy, and mannerisms of high school age teens.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Luke Aday knew that his sister’s death was imminent—she had been under hospice care for months—but that didn’t make her death any easier on him or their family. He returns to school three days after the funeral to a changed world; his best friends welcome him back with open arms, but it isn’t the same. When a charismatic new student, Eddie Sankawulo, tries to welcome Luke to his own school, something life-changing happens: In a moment of frustration, Luke runs into an empty classroom, hurls his backpack against the wall—and the backpack never lands. Luke Aday has just discovered that he can stop time.
Review: For whatever reason, this book took me a couple of chapters to really get into it. In the beginning, it felt, I dunno…a little…busy? Like, it wasn’t easy to immediately grasp what was going on. That being said, however, once it clicked, Hold had my attention all the way through. I love YA books, and Rachel Davidson Leigh perfectly captured the mood, energy, and mannerisms of high school age teens. All of the characters were relatable in some way. From the bullies to the drama geeks, these were all kids you knew in school, and I would place bets that readers are going to completely fall for Hold’s main trio: Luke and his two best friends, Dee and Marcos.
In the story, Luke is just returning to school after a month-long absence preceding the death of his sister, and now, just a few days past the funeral, clearly still grieving, he isn’t in the mood to take anyone’s shit—least of all Wes’s. Wes is the bullying brother of one of Luke’s best friends, and has been a thorn in Luke’s side for years. Wes is an ass, plain and simple. He isn’t that bright, and certainly isn’t at all original with his jabs—calling Luke, who is Indian, ‘Punjab’, for example. See what he did there? [insert eye roll] But, as I said, Luke isn’t in the mood for Wes’s shit, and escapes to an empty classroom after a hallway encounter with him and his jackass buddies.
Enter the discovery of the superpower. Dun, dun, dunnnnnnnn.
The detailed description in the scene where Luke’s backpack ends up frozen in midair is pretty damn cool. As the catalyst to Luke discovering he can stop time, the scene had to be done right, and the author definitely delivered—as she did with all of the following scenes where Luke uses the Hold. The frozen people and objects, the individual wide-eyed blank stares, I was able to vividly picture each scenario. Extremely cool stuff. I did have one issue with the Hold, though…I would have liked to have more explanation as to why Luke was able to stop time, or how he all of a sudden has this power. I suppose it’s possible he was born with it but is just now finding out about the ability. That seems unlikely, though, and unfortunately, it was never discussed. Also, I would have liked to know if there is any sort of ‘objective’ or higher reasoning regarding using the power: i.e., what is the purpose? But, other than those puzzlements, I was down with it.
I was also down with all of the mystery and suspense surrounding Eddie Sankawulo, who Luke keeps bumping into with nerve-wracking frequency. Eddie is a great character. Fun, popular, smart, and protective of his parents, particularly his mother, Eddie sets his sights on befriending Luke, and sort of tricks him into working on a theatre project with him. The friendship that Luke and Eddie form isn’t an easygoing one. They fight quite a lot, and things are pretty strained, for the most part. Some of which has to do with the burgeoning and confusing crush that Luke has on Eddie, and some of which has to do with the things Luke knows about him. Things he shouldn’t know. Luke makes assumptions based on this miniscule knowledge he thinks he has about Eddie, and it definitely colors his view.
I was also completely on board for the friendship between Luke and Dee and Marcos. These three were so amazingly fun and likeable together. I loved what they had going on. Their dynamic was fantastic. One hilarious example:
She shrugged. “What about tests? You could take a potentially infinite amount of time on all of your tests, and no one would ever know.”
Marcos’s eyebrows shot skyward as Luke dropped the notes back into his hand. “Wow! And here Luke was planning to misuse his powers to save the universe. Thank goodness you reminded him to cheat on tests.”
“I can hear sixty years of superheroes crying into their capes,” Luke said, his hand to his ear.
“I dunno, Luke. She might be right. They are worth forty percent of your grade.”
I especially adored the bromance between Luke and Marcos, who Luke has had a crush on since Marcos “walked into his life in seventh grade, like a human ray of sunshine who made Luke forget how to spell his own name.”
There is no doubt that the author has a way with words. The writing is so lovely and fresh. Phrases like “The February wind hit him like an accusation…” just jump out at you with their awesome. She has a smooth, easygoing style that I really enjoyed. And, I LOVED the excellent representation of sexual and cultural diversity. There are not enough books with queer people of color, but Davidson Leigh has given us three to celebrate here. Go check this one out, guys! I’ll for sure be keeping an eye out for more from this author.
You can buy Hold here: