Holding Still for as Long as Possible (Anansi) is Zoe Whittall’s most readable and intelligent work to date. The novel takes place in a recognizable Toronto but not the familiar setting of most literary depictions of the city. Josh is a dedicated paramedic who used to be a girl. He lives with the perfect and privileged Amy, the kind of girl who is always impeccably groomed. They used to be in love but now they can’t stand each other, and Josh is immediately attracted to Billy, who lives with his best friend. A former tween pop superstar, Billy is now a paranoid student barely able to function from day to day.
Whittall creates a backdrop of a complex and realistic lesbian subculture, something that was too manufactured and in-your-face in her previous book, Bottle Rocket Hearts. These characters really grow, and even though there isn’t much of a plot, their desires and needs are strong and credible enough to propel the story.
Holding Still is subtle and captivating, and even the overly dramatic ending rings true.