Holding On by Sophia N. Lee is a short read with illustrations full of character and emotion. The story is about lola, who has lived through Filipino love songs and believes that through song and dance you can “hold on” to who you are, your happiness, your memories. It is cute when you’re watching the grandchild dance with Lola and feeling her miss grandma. It’s painful when Lola isn’t remembering well and her grandchild is trying to help her get there by playing her favorite songs and singing. As a reader, you yearn for Lola’s memory back and with heartache, miss younger days where someone so pure and loving was full of joy and happiness.
I appreciated that this wasn’t the typical “kids” book that taught you a lesson that we all spend time continuously reminding ourselves such as “share” or “treat others how you want to be treated.” This book will stay at the forefront of the bookshelf forever because these are the messages that matter, especially since the continuing diaspora means Filipino history is convoluted and too often forgotten. It is such a beautiful way to remember our ancestors by the music they loved and the way they smile when happy. The moral of this story, I think, is to hold on to the moments. Sing with your loved ones and keep on dancing.