Kevin Major Carolyn S. Lembeck - Essay

Carolyn S. Lembeck

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

At 14 kids need to look outside the small world of home and family to fix their bearings on their own independence and individuality. Literature can provide such a reading. Adolescents recognize in their fictional counterparts the same irretrievable loss of childhood, the inevitability of adulthood, and the paradox of being in both places at one time. Sometimes it is enough to "hold fast," a discovery made by Michael, a young Canadian from the fishing village of Marten, Newfoundland, in [Hold Fast]….

Pushed by family and social pressures to the point of losing his grip, Michael takes his young life into his own hands…. Michael's courage inspires his intimidated cousin, Curtis, to join him in his adventure. After a few days of "running away from home" the two boys are bored enough to face the job of growing up on their own terms. Curtis returns to St. Albert and his troubled family; Michael makes his claim to his parental home just as a second loss is demanded of him, the death of his best friend, Grandfather. Now no stranger to sorrow and rage, Michael accepts the tragedy as part of an imperfect world in which he now directs his own course. It is a long way to have come in one year.

Very few young people will find themselves in Michael's unhappy situation; yet they will recognize his struggles as their own. A good book does more, however, than offer the consolation of not being alone. It instructs and inspires. Hold Fast does both.

Carolyn S. Lembeck, in her review of "Hold Fast," in Best Sellers (copyright © 1980 Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation), Vol. 40, No. 3, June, 1980, p. 118.