by Judith Hayn
Balliett, B. (2013). Hold fast. Scholastic Press.
Hold Fast is the latest in Blue Balliett’s popular mysteries featuring young adolescents. Dashel Pearl lives in a Chicago high rise apartment with his wife Summer and their daughter Early and young son Jubilation. Dash has a job working at the Harold Washington Public Library, but one day he just disappears one cold afternoon.
Where is Dash? What will happen to the family now that there is no income? Early uses the rhythms of words that her father loves and taught to her as she tries to unravel the mystery. After a violent break-in, the family flees their cozy home for the uncertainties of the urban homeless shelter system.
Early is a delightful, charming heroine, whip-smart and resourceful. While her mother sinks into depression over their plight, the young girl keeps searching. She unites with a fascinating set of characters in her quest to clear her father of stealing rare books and reunite this shattered family. Balliett interweaves the serious problem of homeless children and the damage the shelter system wreaks; however, Early’s story is one of redemption and hope, a triumph of the human spirit in one shelter kid. The book is a must read for those twelve and younger as the author’s play with language and words creates a lyrical read.
Dr. Judith A. Hayn is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
This article is part of a series from the Special Interest Group Network on Adolescent Literature (SIGNAL).