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Hold Still: A Novel
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Published:
Liveright 2016
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Description

A "wildly evocative" (Elle.com) family portrait that explores the depths and limits of a mother's love.


When Maya Taylor, an English professor with a tendency to hide in her books, sends her daughter to Florida to look after a friend's child, she does so with the best of intentions; it's a chance for Ellie, twenty and spiraling, to rebuild her life. But in the sprawling hours of one humid afternoon, Ellie makes a mistake she cannot take back. In two separate timelines—before and after the catastrophe—Maya and Ellie must try to repair their fractured relationship and find a way to transcend not only their differences but also their more troubling similarities. "[Melding] psychological insight, precise plotting and limpid prose" (Huffington Post), Lynn Steger Strong traces the anatomy of a mistake and the weight of culpability. Hold Still marks a taut and propulsive debut that "builds to a perfect crescendo, an ending that is both surprising and true" (Marcy Dermansky, author of The Red Car).

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/21/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781631491696
ASIN:
B00ZAT912Y
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Lynn Steger Strong. (2016). Hold Still: A Novel. Liveright.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Lynn Steger Strong. 2016. Hold Still: A Novel. Liveright.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Lynn Steger Strong, Hold Still: A Novel. Liveright, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Lynn Steger Strong. Hold Still: A Novel. Liveright, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 15:25:05
Date Updated:
Dec 06, 2020 02:40:51
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Feb 28, 2021 06:49:52
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shortDescription

A "wildly evocative" (Elle.com) family portrait that explores the depths and limits of a mother's love.

When Maya Taylor, an English professor with a tendency to hide in her books, sends her daughter to Florida to look after a friend's child, she does so with the best of intentions; it's a chance for Ellie, twenty and spiraling, to rebuild her life. But in the sprawling hours of one humid afternoon, Ellie makes a mistake she cannot take back. In two separate timelines—before and after the catastrophe—Maya and Ellie must try to repair their fractured relationship and find a way to transcend not only their differences but also their more troubling similarities. "[Melding] psychological insight, precise plotting and limpid prose" (Huffington Post), Lynn Steger Strong traces the anatomy of a mistake and the weight of culpability. Hold Still marks a taut and propulsive debut that "builds to a perfect crescendo, an ending that is both surprising and true" (Marcy...

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title
Hold Still
fullDescription

A "wildly evocative" (Elle.com) family portrait that explores the depths and limits of a mother's love.

When Maya Taylor, an English professor with a tendency to hide in her books, sends her daughter to Florida to look after a friend's child, she does so with the best of intentions; it's a chance for Ellie, twenty and spiraling, to rebuild her life. But in the sprawling hours of one humid afternoon, Ellie makes a mistake she cannot take back. In two separate timelines—before and after the catastrophe—Maya and Ellie must try to repair their fractured relationship and find a way to transcend not only their differences but also their more troubling similarities. "[Melding] psychological insight, precise plotting and limpid prose" (Huffington Post), Lynn Steger Strong traces the anatomy of a mistake and the weight of culpability. Hold Still marks a taut and propulsive debut that "builds to a perfect crescendo, an ending that is both surprising and true" (Marcy Dermansky, author of The Red Car).

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
      • content: In this compelling debut, Lynn Steger Strong paints a portrait of familial love that is real, visceral, and all the more dangerous for being unconditional. Her characters show us that loving someone deeply can be a fraught act—and trying to gain distance from them, even more so.
      • premium: False
      • source: Richard Ford
      • content: Lynn Steger Strong has a great eye for the visible world, a near perfect sensor for those of us living in it, and a deep compassion and curiosity for how we go astray and find ourselves again.
      • premium: False
      • source: Rufi Thorpe, author of The Girls from Corona del Mar
      • content: Strong has produced a family saga both familiar and strange, told in kaleidoscopic detail, dancing back and forth in time, balletically slow yet always knife tight, philosophical, interrogative and smart. I read with my heart in my throat.
      • premium: False
      • source: Mark Dermansky, author of Bad marie
      • content: A tragedy lurks at the heart of Lynn Steger Strong's achingly sad, achingly beautiful debut novel. How do you forgive your child after she does the unthinkable? How can you not? Hold Still quietly builds to a perfect crescendo, an ending that is both surprising and true.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        December 7, 2015
        Strong’s debut novel features some familiar elements—an unhappy academic family (in Park Slope), children flailing, one spouse emotionally distant, the other tempted by a student—but it is saved by the convincing emotional gymnastics of Maya Taylor. An English professor and overbearing mother, Maya tumbles fully-clothed into the ocean to rescue her young daughter, Ellie, from a wave in the foreshadowing first chapter. “I’m fine,” her daughter says, although the reader always suspects this isn’t true. From then on, the chapters shift between present and past: a present where Ellie is away from home, recovering from a vaguely alluded-to tragedy, and the past, where Ellie has begun to spiral out of control toward the mistake that will unravel her and her family. Meanwhile, her brother flounders through his freshman year, and her parents drift further apart. Ellie’s instability is the narrative locus, and the portrayal of teenage addiction occasionally feels unconvincing and melodramatic, as does the puppy-dog rendering of Charles, Maya’s adoring and one-dimensional TA. What keeps the pages turning is the desperate, botched attempts at familial love between family members, none of whom seem to know quite what they want, bringing to mind the Tolstoy quote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Here, the mercurial rendering of this particular unhappy family makes it a heart-wrenching read in its very own way. Agent: Amelia Atlas, ICM Partners.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        January 1, 2016
        Strong's debut novel traces a mother-daughter bond that must be rebuilt after a life-changing tragedy. College professors Stephen and Maya Taylor have made a lovely life for themselves, commuting from tree-lined Brooklyn to teach philosophy and English at Columbia University. As their children, Ellie and Ben, grow closer to adulthood, the family seems to hang by a thread. After years of Ellie using drugs, making mistakes, and sleeping with the wrong boys, Maya ships her away to Florida to care for an old friend's child. Maya, an unmothered mother who coped with the pressures of parenting by reading, locking herself in her office, and running the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan for what seems like "half the day," no longer sleeps with her husband. Stephen's patience is tried by Ben's announcement that he's giving up his soccer scholarship and taking a break from college. The novel alternates between Ellie in 2011 and Maya in 2013, a before-and-after exploration of what tragedy and mistakes can do to families and friendships. Ellie's bad habits follow her to Florida and result in irrevocable loss. The accident, which is not elaborated on until the final pages, seems anticlimactic after being alluded to throughout the novel. Though Ellie's mistake is the lynchpin of the book, most of the story unpacks Maya's life--her absent mother, her emotionally unstable father, her career, her marriage, her closest friendship, and a web of relationships with graduate students. Ellie's brief but sweet relationship with her mother's friend and former student Annie is warmly drawn but leaves readers wishing Ellie was the subject of the same deep character analysis Maya received. A family drama that illustrates trauma's reverberations beyond those directly involved.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        January 1, 2016
        Behind any life-changing decision is a cascade of choices leading up to it. For Ellie, those choices led her down a troubled path of drugs and partying, until her abdication of responsibility caused a reckoning that no one could have prepared for. Her mother, Maya, an English professor with a propensity to hide in her books rather than face real life, struggles to connect with her wayward daughter as well as her distant husband and, until recently, dependable son. The narrative bounces back and forth between the period shortly before Ellie's pivotal action, revealing the circumstances surrounding it and the consequences that came from it. Strong brilliantly captures the significance that unmade decisions can have on a life, and her study of the relationship between mother and daughter is nuanced and heavy with their history. The fact that Ellie's voice is almost entirely absent in the chapters after the event serves to heighten the tension and distance between the two. Introspective and intricately plotted, Hold Still considers what remains after a devastating event changes everything.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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