Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: Pregnant Pause

Originally published on January 11, 2012.

My official second book of the year is Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan (who is a woman, although her name doesn't quite sound like it). First off, disclaimer: this is not a book about being pregnant. I did not read it because I am pregnant. I read it because it was on the "new arrivals" shelf in the teen room at my local library a couple of months ago and it caught my eye. Secondly, I LOVED this book.

Okay, so 16-year-old Eleanor Crowe is kind of a mess. She's pregnant. She got pregnant the very first time she ever had sex--but don't let that fool you; she's no saint otherwise. In the almost three years she has been with her boyfriend Lam, he has convinced her to do all kinds of other not-so-great things, like drinking and using drugs and stealing her parents' car. Elly's been in juvie twice. So when she finally confesses to her parents that she's pregnant, they view it as just the latest in a long line of screw-ups.

To complicate matters, Eleanor's parents are missionaries, and when Elly reveals the news of her pregnancy (when she's 5+ months along), they're preparing to move from the States back to Kenya to work with AIDS orphans. Once they're done yelling at her, they seize upon what they view as the logical solution: to give Elly's baby to her sister Sarah, who is 10 years older, married, and has been trying unsuccessfully for several years to have a baby of her own. Of course, Elly has never done things the easy way.

Just to make her parents mad, Elly says that she's going to marry Lam. To her surprise, her parents call her bluff. They get together with his parents and agree that marriage would be a good thing (later, Elly realizes this is likely because they all knew that it was destined to fail, while hopefully straightening she and Lam out in the process). Furthermore, since her parents are moving to Kenya and she and Lam have no money, no jobs, and no plans in life, his parents "generously" give them a cabin at the camp they own and operate. Oh, except it's only one room (with no kitchen or bathroom or heating of any kind), and it's actually a fat camp (where kids are sent to lose weight), and Elly is not going to be paid at all for her summer of work with the campers. So at age 16, Eleanor finds herself pregnant, married, living in a cabin in the middle of the woods, working with troubled kids (for which she receives no training whatsoever), and financially dependent on her in-laws, who make no secret of their hatred for her. On the first day of their marriage, Lam leaves her home alone while he goes out to party with his friends... not to mention the fact that he also blows his entire savings account. Both Elly's sister and Lam's parents are like these vultures that are circling around her, just waiting for her baby to come so they can adopt it (Lam's parents had a baby die in infancy and have been dreaming of another one since then). No one, and I mean no one, is rooting for this girl, believing in her in any way, or even being nice to her.

Through her work with the kids at the camp and the relationships that she forms with some of the other counselors, Elly slowly comes to understand herself in a whole new way. She questions her love for Lam and eventually comes to understand his destructive role in her life. She is forced to deal with the tough issue of what to do with her baby, especially when the birth (which happens on the same day as a camp tragedy) brings some unwelcome surprises.

From the very first chapter of this book, I just wanted to jump into the pages and tell Eleanor, "I'm on your team! I'm rooting for you! I would help you if I could!" She is an awesome character, so much more multi-dimensional and REAL than any I have read in a long time. I was constantly frustrated on her behalf about how much everyone around her just SUCKED and constantly belittled her, telling her that because of her past mistakes, she was worth nothing in the present (and likely future). She was incredibly strong and brave, as well as incredibly sarcastic (which I happen to love).

In short, READ THIS BOOK. If you are a fan of Sarah Dessen (or if you only read adult books, Emily Giffin), I think you will love Han Nolan even more. I definitely plan on reading the rest of her books as soon as I can!

No comments:

Post a Comment