12.07 Nina LaCour Hold Still

ISBN 13: 9780142416945

Hold Still

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9780142416945: Hold Still

The award-winning first novel from the bestselling author of We Are Okay. For fans of 13 Reasons Why.

In the wake of her best friend Ingrid's suicide, Caitlin is left alone, struggling to find hope and answers. When she finds the journal Ingrid left behind for her, she begins a journey of understanding and broadening her horizons that leads her to new friendships and first love. Nina LaCour brings the changing seasons of Caitlin's first year without Ingrid to life with emotion, honesty, and captivating writing.

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About the Author:

Nina LaCour (www.ninalacour.com) is the author of the award-winning Hold Still and widely acclaimed The Disenchantments. Formerly a bookseller and high school English teacher, she now writes and parents full time. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Nina lives with her family in Oakland, California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Her best friend is gone . . .but she left something behind.

I get down on the carpet to look under my bed. I stick my arm under and feel around, find a couple mismatched socks, and something I don’t recognize—hard and flat and dusty. I pull it out, thinking maybe it’s a yearbook from elementary school, and then I see it and my heart stops.

Ingrid’s journal.

For some reason, I feel afraid. It’s like I’m split down the middle and one half of me wants to open it more than I’ve ever wanted to do anything. The other half is so scared. I can’t stop shaking.

Did it get kicked under the bed one night by accident?

Did she hide it?

I stare at it in my hands forever, just feeling its weight, looking at the place where one Wite-Out wing is starting to flake off. Then, once my hands are steadied, I open to the first page. It’s a drawing of her face—yellow hair; blue eyes; small, crooked smile. She’s looking straight ahead. Birds fly across the background. She drew them blurry, to show movement, and across the top she wrote, Me on a Sunday Morning.

I turn the page.

As I read, I can hear Ingrid’s voice, hushed and fast, like she’s telling me secrets.

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Table of Contents

 

Her best friend is gone . . .but she left something behind

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Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

 

summer

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

 

fall

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

 

winter

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

 

spring

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

 

summers, again

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

 

Acknowledgements

Questions for Discussion

Author Q&A

Behind the Music

An excerpt from Everything Leads to You

DUTTON BOOKS
A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

PUBLISHEDBY THE PENGUIN GROUP
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3,
Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) | Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London
WC2R 0RL, England | Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of
Penguin Books Ltd) | Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria
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11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India | Penguin Group (NZ),
67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand
Ltd.) | Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg
2196, South Africa | Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London
WC2R 0RL, England

 

This book is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination
or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Text copyright © 2009 by Nina LaCour

Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Mia Nolting

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any
information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission
in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in
connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.

 

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility
for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

CIP Data is available.

 

Published in the United States by Dutton Books,
a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
www.penguin.com/youngreaders

 

 

ISBN: 9781101148884

for my family and for Kristyn

summer

1

I watch drops of water fall from the ends of my hair. They streak down my towel, puddle on the sofa cushion. My heart pounds so hard I can feel it in my ears.

“Sweetheart. Listen.”

Mom says Ingrid’s name and I start to hum, not the melody to a song, just one drawn-out note. I know it makes me seem crazy, I know it won’t make anything change, but it’s better than crying, it’s better than screaming, it’s better than listening to what they’re telling me.

Something is smashing my chest—an anchor, gravity. Soon I’ll cave in on myself. I stumble upstairs and yank on the jeans and tank top I wore yesterday. Then I’m out the door, up the street, around the corner to the bus stop. Dad calls my name but I don’t shout back. Instead, I step onto the bus just as its doors are shutting. I find a seat in the back and ride away, through Los Cerros and through the next town, until I’m on an unfamiliar street, and that’s where I get off. I sit on the bench at the bus stop, try to slow my breathing. The light here is different, bluer. A smiling mom with a baby in a stroller glides past me. A tree branch moves in the breeze. I try to be as light as air.

But my hands are wild, they need to move, so I pick at a piece of the bench where the wood is splintering. I break a short nail on my right hand even shorter, but I manage to pull off a small piece of wood. I drop it into my cupped palm and pry off another.

All last night, I listened to a recording of my voice reciting biology facts on repeat. It plays back in my head now, a sound track for catastrophe, and drowns everything out. If a brown-eyed man and a brown-eyed woman have a child, the child will probably have brown eyes. But if both the father and the mother have a gene for blue eyes, it’s possible that their child could have blue eyes.

An old guy in a snowflake cardigan sits next to me. My hand is now half full of wooden strips. I feel him watching but I can’t stop. I want to say, What are you staring at? It’s hot, it’s June, and you’re wearing a Christmas sweater.

“Do you need help, darling?” the old guy asks. His mustache is wispy and white.

Without looking from the bench, I shake my head. No.

He takes a cell phone from his pocket. “Would you like to use my phone?”

My heart beats off rhythm and it makes me cough.

“May I call your mother?”

Ingrid has blond hair. She has blue eyes, which means that even though her father’s eyes are brown, he must have a recessive blue-eye gene.

A bus nears. The old guy stands, wavers.

“Darling,” he says.

He lifts his hand as if he’s going to pat my shoulder, but changes his mind.

My left hand is all the way full of wood now, and it’s starting to spill over. I am not a darling. I am a girl ready to explode into nothing.

The old guy backs away, boards the bus, vanishes from sight.

The cars pass in front of me. One blur of color after another. Sometimes they stop at the light or for someone to cross the street, but they always go away eventually. I think I’ll live here, stay like this forever, pick away at the bench until it’s a pile of splinters on the sidewalk. Forget what it feels like to care about anyone.

A bus rolls up but I wave it past. A few minutes later, two little girls peer at me from the backseat of a blue car—one is blond and fair; one is brunette, darker. Colored barrettes decorate their hair. It isn’t impossible that they’re sisters, but it’s unlikely. Their heads tilt to see me better. They stare hard. When the light changes to green, they reach their small hands out the rolled-down window and wave so hard and fast that it looks like birds have bloomed from their wrists.

Sometime later, my dad pulls up. He leans to the passenger side and pushes the door open. The smell of leather. Thin, cold, air-conditioned air. I climb in. Let him take me home.

2

I sleep through the next day. Each time I go to the bathroom, I try not to look in the mirror. Once, I catch my reflection: it looks like I’ve been punched in both eyes.

3

I can’t talk about the day that follows that.

4

We wind up Highway 1 at a crawl because Dad is a cautious driver and he’s terrified of heights. Below us to one side are rocks and ocean; to the other, dense trees and signs welcoming us to towns with populations of eighty-four. Mom has brought her entire classical CD collection, and now we’re on Beethoven. It’s “Für Elise,” which she always plays on her piano. Fingers dance softly across her lap.

 

 

On the outskirts of a small town, we pull off the road to eat lunch. We sit on an old quilt. Mom and Dad look at me and I look at the worn fabric, the hand-sewn stitches.

“There are things you should know,” Mom says.

I listen for the cars passing by, and the waves, and the crinkling of paper sandwich wrappers. Still, some of their words make it through: clinically depressed; medication; since she was nine years old. The ocean is far below us, but the waves crash so loudly, sound close enough to drown us.

“Caitlin?” Dad says.

Mom touches my knee. “Sweetheart?” she asks. “Are you listening?”

 

 

At night, we stay in a cabin with bunk beds and walls made of tree trunks split open. I brush my teeth with my back to the mirror, climb up the ladder to the top bunk, and pretend to fall asleep. My parents creak through the cabin, turning on and off the faucet, flushing the toilet, unzipping their duffel bags. I pull my legs to my chest, try to inhabit as little space as possible.

The room goes dark.

I open my eyes to the tree-trunk wall. Once I learned that trees grow from the inside out. A circle of wood for each year. I count them with my fingers.

“This will be good for her,” Dad says softly.

“I hope so.”

“At least it will get her away from home. It’s quiet here.”

Mom whispers, “She’s hardly spoken for days.”

I hold still and stop counting. I wait to hear more, but minutes pass, and then the whistle of Dad’s snore begins, followed by Mom’s even breaths.

My hands lose track of the years. It’s too dark to start over.

At three or four in the morning, I jolt awake. I fix my eyes to constellations that have been painted on the ceiling. I try not to blink for too long because when I do I see Ingrid’s face, eyes shut and lips still. I mouth biology facts to keep my head clear. There are two stages of meiosis and then four daughter cells are produced, I whisper almost silently, careful not to wake my parents up. Each of the daughter cells has half the chromosomes of the parent cells. Outside, a car passes. Light sweeps over the ceiling, across the stars. I repeat the facts until all the words cram together.

Twostagesofmeiosisandthenfourdaughtercellsareproducedeachdaughtercellhashalf thechromosomesof theparentcellstwostagesofmeiosis . . .

Pretty soon I start to smile. It sounds funnier and funnier each time I say it. And then I have to grab my pillow and bury my face so my parents don’t wake to the sound of me laughing myself to sleep.

5

On a hot morning in July, Dad rents a car because he has to go back to work. But Mom and I stay in Northern California like it’s the only place we’ve heard of. I sit in front and navigate, keeping us within the invisible boundaries on the map—no farther north than a few miles into Oregon, no farther south than Chico. We spend the summer wandering through caves and forests, surviving crooked roads, and eating grilled-cheese sandwiches at roadside restaurants. We only talk about the things right in front of us—the redwoods, the waitresses, the strength of our iced teas. One night, we discover a tiny old movie theater in the middle of nowhere. We see a children’s movie because it’s the only thing playing, and pay more attention to the kids laughing and yelling than we do to the screen. Twice, we strap flashlights to our heads and grope through lava caves in Lassen National Park. Mom trips and shrieks. Her voice echoes forever. I start dreaming about the cardigan man. In the middle of the forest, he drifts toward me in a tux with a red bow tie. Darling, he says, and holds out his phone. I know Ingrid’s on the other end, waiting for me to talk to her. As I reach for it, I notice—surrounding me are green trees, brown earth, but I am in black-and-white.

In the mornings, Mom lets me drink coffee and says, “Honey, you’re pale.”

6

And then, out of nowhere, September comes.

We have to go back.

fall

1

It is 3 A.M. Not the most logical time to take a photograph without lights or a flash or high-speed film, but here I am anyway, perched on the hood of the boxy gray car I should be able to drive by now, camera tilted to the sky, hoping to catch the moon before a cloud moves across it. I snap frame after frame at slow shutter speeds until the moon is gone and the sky is black.

My car creaks as I slide off, moans when I open...

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