Review for "Hold Tight, Don't Let Go" by Laura Rose Wagner (2015) Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
It’s rare when a book touches you down to your core. You cry (maybe more than once), you read certain passages over and over, you find yourself thinking about the characters in those moments you’re not reading it. This was one such book.
Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go is the story of two 16-year-old cousins, Nadine and Magdalie, raised as sisters by Nadine’s mother in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The story opens during the first frightening moments of the devastating January 2010 earthquake, with the cousins losing their home, their aunt, and everything they own within several minutes. They eventually move into a makeshift camp with their uncle and scrape by, surviving through the oppressive heat, the lack of food, and the horribly unsanitary conditions there. Eventually Nadine’s father in the U.S. sends for her and she leaves Magdalie behind, promising to send for her later.
From this point, this is really Magdalie’s story. She hopes for Nadine to send for her, but as time passes it becomes obvious to our character that this is not going to happen. We follow Magdalie over the next two years as she makes a living in the Haiti that struggles to rebuild after the quake and the range of emotions she takes in the process–desperation, anger, and eventually hope. I don’t want to give away the ending, but this is a beautiful book. The descriptions, the sights, the smells, the music, I really felt like I was there. It is clear that the author spent time in this place and her understanding of the culture of this land is evident.
5 stars. Do read this.