Hold Love Strong

A Novel

Hold Love Strong

Born to a thirteen-year-old in the bathroom of his family’s small apartment, Abraham Singleton enters a world laden with the obstacles inherent in an impoverished urban community. But when his mother becomes addicted to crack and his uncle—the family’s basketball prodigy and their potential ticket out of poverty—is arrested and convicted, the last glimmer of hope is extinguished. Then a college scholarship offers Abraham a way out, but what of those he will leave behind? Tossed into tumultuous times, Abraham and his family struggle to overcome their grim environment and the crushing weight of the past. .

In the vein of Richard Wright’s Native Son , this novel is a wake-up call to America “told exceptionally well in the lyrical first person voice of a sensitive and perceptive youth” ( Booklist ). A spellbinding coming-of-age novel about love, hope, and the will to survive, Hold Love Strong is a revealing look inside the nation’s crumbling housing projects, and a universal story about the incredible capacity of the human spirit..
  • Touchstone | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416562047 | 
  • March 2010
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Matthew Aaron Goodman. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Questions for Discussion
  1. What is the significance of the title, Hold Love Strong?  What scene in the book does it originate from?  What do you think its meaning is in the context of the book’s message?
  2. Abraham claims that “in Ever, we were three things: broken, desperate to leave, or soldiers in a war so impossible to win that everything we did, even blinking our eyes, even licking our lips, might be suicide”.  Discuss the following characters in the context of this statement: Abraham, Jelly, Rhonda, Nice and Donnell.  Which of the three categories does each character fall into?  Do you think it’s possible for them to move from one to another?  Why?
  3. Abraham’s grandmother reasons that, “there were lives…that were simply impossible to live.”  Does the life that Abraham begins to want seem impossible?  When does he realize that it is possible?  What steps does he have to take to make it possible?
  4. Abraham’s grandmother forbids Abraham
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About the Author

Matthew Aaron Goodman
Photo Credit: Alison Rosa

Matthew Aaron Goodman

Matthew Goodman earned a B.A. degree in literature from Brandeis University and an MFA from Emerson College. He has been a student of writing at the 92nd Street Y, Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, and the Vermont Studio Center, and has taught and worked in inner-city communities for years. Working hand-in-hand with formerly incarcerated men and women, he created The Leadership Alliance, a community empowerment project that unites community leaders and volunteer partners. He lives with his wife in Brooklyn, New York.