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Hold Tight, Don't Let Go: A Novel of Haiti Hardcover – January 6, 2015

4.6 out of 5 stars 15 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—When a natural disaster strikes, what happens after the telethons, after the donations, and after the media attention has disappeared? This powerful debut novel follows Magdalie in the two years following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti as she grieves for her manman, adapts to life in the tent camps, and tries to find a place and a community that feels like home. Magdalie seeks to live a normal life in an impermanent society where "my memories are out to get me." People she loves appear and disappear, her home is made of plywood and plastic tarps, she ducks for cover at the slightest sound, and she has no hope of returning to school. She faces the tenuous circumstances with her beloved cousin Nadine, but then must brave them alone after Nadine is granted a U.S. visa. Wagner creates a portrait of post-earthquake Haiti that is a study of contrasts—hopeful and bleak, warm and lonely. Magdalie searches for connections and solutions, but is also afraid of loving anybody when they might disappear at any moment. There have been literary works that highlight the devastation of the earthquake, but Hold Tight Don't Let Go is unique in that it highlights the two years after—what international aid really looks like, how temporary situations become permanent, and the how profound losses affect those who are left. Wagner also effectively highlights the nuances of urban poverty and rural poverty. The book ends with a sweet, optimistic epilogue that provides happy endings, but detracts from the power of the novel. Wagner provides a helpful glossary and brief history of Haiti. A worthy companion to author Nick Lake's In Darkness (Bloomsbury, 2012).—Susannah Goldstein, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City

Review

STARRED REVIEW
"An insightful disaster-survival story with far-reaching emotional resonance."
(Kirkus Reviews 2014-10-15)

STARRED REVIEW
"Wagner’s portrait of Haitian culture is particularly compelling, and her descriptions of the settings of the city and Tonton Élie’s country hometown are lush, despite the nation’s dire circumstances."
(Publishers Weekly 2014-11-10)

"[R]eaders will be buoyed by the hopeful future the author imagines for Magdalie and for Haiti."
(Amina Chaudhri Booklist 2014-11-15)

“There have been literary works that highlight the devastation of the earthquake, but Hold Tight Don’t Let Go is unique in that it highlights the two years after—what international aid really looks like, how temporary situations become permanent, and the how profound losses affect those who are left.”
(Susannah Goldstein, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City School Library Journal 2014-12-01)

"Wagner paints a convincing picture of post-earthquake survival...Treatment of Haitian cultural traditions is fascinating and respectful."
(The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books)

Product details

  • Grade level : 8 and up
  • Item Weight : 14.5 ounces
  • Hardcover : 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9781419712043
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1419712043
  • Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
  • Publisher : Amulet Books (January 6, 2015)
  • ASIN : 1419712047
  • Reading level : 13 and up
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 15 ratings

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
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