NYT Review of ‘HOLD TIGHT, DON’T LET GO’ by Laura Wagner

There’s a new YA novel set in post-earthquake Haiti. So exciting! There’s now enough post-earthquake Haitian literature for a whole college course!

I was so honored to be able to review this book for the New York Times!


When we are uncertain that the ground beneath our feet will not rumble and shift and swallow us whole, even the very next minute carries with it looming doubt. This is one of the ways Haitians say goodbye: ­Demen si Dye vle — “Tomorrow if God is willing.” Tomorrow is not promised, and when it does come, with all its roils and jolts, kenbe fèm, pa lage, “hold tight, don’t let go.” That is the title of Laura Rose Wagner’s debut novel, in which such Haitian idioms abound. This coming-of-age story conveys the country’s deeply entwined faith and fear of the unknown through the eyes of a teenager named Magdalie Jean-Baptiste.

You can read the rest of the review here.

There’s also been lots of talk about reviews for diverse books lately. Author Malindo Lo wrote an excellent four-part piece on the subject for Diversity in YA. Here’s what I think is an important quote that conveys why it’s important for reviewers to clearly depict culture, race, sexual orientation in diverse books.

If a trade review only hints about race or LGBT or disability issues, then I turn to blog reviews and Goodreads to confirm my suspicions. But more often than not I find that trade reviews do include details about the book’s diversity, and lately it has become increasingly common for trade reviews to state a character’s background quite plainly. I appreciate this because that’s why I’m reading these reviews, and I think an up-front statement that a character is gay is much better than an insinuation that the story has something to do with sexuality. It removes some of the stigma from historically marginalized identities, and it helps those of us who are seeking out these books to find them.

You can read more of Malinda Lo’s excellent piece here.

book reviews, books, diversity, Haiti, HOLD TIGHT DON'T LET GO, Laura Wagner, YA fiction

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