by Nell Gavin
Book and Quill Press
Release date: July 29, 2011
Copy provided by: Author
Holly is a 19-year-old single girl living in 1970s Chicago and trying to survive every day. She prides herself on her independence and her ability to survive with minimal human connection in her life. At least, she is trying to convince herself as much as everyone else that she is choosing to live in the shadows. What Holly may not realize is that by keeping to herself, she will never discover who she really is.
Holly’s lack of connection with her world began when she was only four years old, and her mother committed suicide. Holly went to live with her grandmother, who never really wanted her. As a result, the amount of verbal and psychological abuse she suffered caused her to internalize her feelings and withdraw from human connection. When even her psychiatrist cannot explain why Holly feels the way she does, she begins to resign herself to a fate of always being alone and unhappy. What she does not realize is that what she feels is not all in her head, but has yet to be understood and diagnosed within the clinical community.
As Holly begins to spend time in bars and clubs, she immerses herself in the music scene. When she meets the British band, Torc, she quickly discovers she somehow belongs with these people, and feels as though she finally fits in. She forms an instant connection with one of the roadies, Trevor, and knows she must try to make it work with him. As their relationship progresses, it quickly evolves into something Holly is not sure whether or not she can handle. Her ability to let others in is challenged, as is everything she thought she knew of herself.
As we follow Holly though a several year journey with Trevor and the band, we begin to see that she is not that different from the rest of us. Holly over-analyzes everything in her life. The difference between her and most people is that she admits it to herself. The honesty and introspection that is evident makes Holly an endearing and likable character. There are times when reading, we wish to make her see how special she really is. Then, we realize: that is life, and often opportunities are missed when we are busy trying to figure it all out.
Hang On is a story of loss, courage, hope, and learning to love one another for the person they are, rather than what is wished to be. Although Holly is later diagnosed as having depression and Borderline Personality Disorder, she could have just as easily been suffering from the neurosis of life. Many of the ways she handled situations were relatable to nearly anyone who is trying to figure out who they are and what to do when new situations are presented.
Gavin has given us a complex story that is so much more than a love story between two people. Rather, it is a love story among oneself. The ability to understand and allow oneself to be happy is the building block to letting others in as well. In a narrative that flows through the pages, Hang On is a story about life, and all its intricacies, that will stay with you long after the covers have been closed. This is a story about not denying the impact a singular voice can possess.
For more about Nell Gavin, visit her site.
This book can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as your local independent bookseller.
[This review is also published at LuLu Book Review.]