Reviewed for @BMBR
How does one classify this book? Is it a coming of age? It had all of the coming of age feels that I love: the hesitance, the self-discovery, the falling for your best friend, and the coming out. But, it also had other aspects that made me think we were dealing with characters much older than 18 year old high school seniors. Still, there were the moments of magic I crave in coming of age stories that made me pretend the other stuff didn’t exist… at least for a little while.
Aaron is a high school senior that has it rough. An abusive, alcoholic father has been a dark cloud that finally turned into a cat 5 hurricane. Add in being homophobic to his father’s already glowing personality, a mother who stayed and endured the abuse (not judging, just recounting), a sister that witnessed it and Aaron wins the award for the crappiest luck of the draw. Aaron’s bright spot though, is his best friend Jeff who doesn’t know his two biggest secrets: abusive home life and that he’s gay.
Jeff is an amazing best friend that’s the calm in Aaron’s storm. He attends to his every need and is able to calm Aaron down from his panic attacks. He is the constant rock Aaron counts on as all hell breaks loose. Jeff is also gay and Aaron doesn’t know.
How they finally got together is beyond me. Every time they were about to make a step in the right direction, drama intervened. There was a TON of drama which meant a lonnnng delay in coming out and an even longer delay in actually communicating interest in each other.
Once they got over the overly dramatic lack of communication and the seal was broken on sex, it was balls to the wall. Errr… more like balls to the chin, hand, ass. You get my point. This was one of those areas I had to suspend my reality and pretend. Aaron and Jeff are two nerdy (but hot) high school virgins with zero girlfriends/boyfriends in the past. BUT, you wouldn’t have know based on their sex life. I’m talking zilch on hesitance, dirty talk that was seasoned, alpha male title drops (literally), fantasy sharing, etc.
“Now tell me, my sexy alpha man, what is it you want?”
There was none of the fumbling first time awkwardness. It read like college or mature adult sex which didn’t line up with their age or experience.
As I mentioned, they go through a lot in the story and I appreciated the balance they had in their friendship and eventually relationship. They had a great connection and chemistry that made me all warm and fuzzy… and if I closed my eyes and pretended they were at least in college, it was hot too. They did take for-freakin’-ever to finally come together. It was amazing how clueless Aaron was. Some of the drama was a little after school special-ish with the star quarterback back coming to their defense and awkward classroom speech. The legal proceedings at the end were also a tad unrealistic but again, I pretended because I enjoyed the bond that Aaron and Jeff had.
For the most part, Holding On kept me coming back for more. I’d recommend it for 18+ coming of age fans who don’t mind lots of drama. Trigger warning for abuse, alcoholism, homophobia, and death.
Copy provided for honest review.