“How can someone’s dreams withstand that much love? I knew mine couldn’t.”Jenni Hnedriks & Tim Caplan
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Unpregnant from @scholastic_au for review.
This book (and review) contains content that could be potentially triggering to some.
Trigger Warning: Abortion
This follows seventeen-year-old Veronica Clarke who is grappling with an unexpected pregnancy and the decision to go through with an abortion. There is a tonne of obstacles that she has to overcome in order to get to the abortion clinic located over 900 miles away from her town.
This book had both awesome moments and not-so-great moments, I think it has merit and is the kind of story I wish was accessible to me as a younger woman in high school. Teenagers often only have sex-ed to work with when dealing with their sexual health and sexual experiences, so having a book about a teenage girl that explores themes that adults often avoid when talking to teenagers would have been wonderful.
*My review will be split into two segments the first being non-spoilery thoughts (directly below this disclaimer). The second containing potential spoilers (this part will be signified with the sub-title “Spoilery Discussion”).*
“Ours was a friendship built on success, not failures.”Jenni Hendriks & Ted Caplan
The characters in this book were one of the elements that stood out the most to me. They felt like genuine people (for the most part – there are characters later on in the book that seem way to OTP for my liking). Veronica had the voice I would expect of a 17 year old protagonist and her outlook was very relatable. The relationships developed in this story were pretty much smack on what I wanted from them. I would have liked to see a little more from her group of friends in the last few chapters of the book, however the way it ended was also perfectly acceptable.
The writing was easy to read, once the ball was rolling I found it hard to put the book down, and was constantly tabbing parts of the dialogue and monologue that I found noteworthy or interesting.
This is the only aspect of the book that made me think it wasn’t going to be a favourite for the year was that the plot took a turn about half way through that made me question all the validity up until that point. I really had to suspend disbelief for a minute in order to be able to continue the book. After a while I was able to forget about that and jump back into the meat and veg of the story again.
I was rooting for Veronica, I genuinely enjoyed the connections she made, and cheered when certain ass holes got served some ice-cold karma. I do think that the real underlying plot of this story could have been delivered in a less campy, over-the-top manner, some of the outrageous plot points took away from the real discussion in my opinion. But I did really enjoy this book, I think it’s important to have YA literature that discusses topics of teen pregnancy in a way that doesn’t show abortion as something negative.
I don’t normally write spoiler-filled discussions in my blog reviews, but I thought I’d give it a whirl since I had so much to say about this. So for the sake of keeping track of things, I am just going to work in chronological order.
In the beginning of the book we quickly find out that Veronica has accidentally fallen pregnant to her high school boyfriend Kevin. She decides pretty early on that this wasn’t something she was going to go through with because it would mean sacrificing everything she had been working towards.
When she confronts her boyfriend he admits to poking F***ING holes in the condom. He says “Your parents will help. Look at what they’ve done for your sister. And the church has day care. It wont be that bad. We’ll still be able to party on weekends.” This boy is SO misguided, it honestly scares me to think that this is how some boys might think. The fact that he does all of this in the name of saving their relationship and stopping Veronica from going to college and leaving him behind. If I could smack him upside the head I would. Kevin is so in his own head about this whole situation that he whips out an engagement ring and proceeds to smush it onto Veronica’s finger in the hopes of cementing their future together.
“I could almost see it. There would be backyard barbecues, church on Sundays; everyone would say we were such a beautiful couple. And I would never stop hating him.”Jenni Hendriks & Ted Caplan
This quote is from Veronica’s inner monologue pretty much directly after Kevin admits to what he had done, stating that he was”proud” of his sperm for getting through the holes…
I think this was the moment I connected with Veronica as a woman, she knew in her heart that it wasn’t about not being accepted by her family or community, she knew it wasn’t because people would judge her for being a teen-mum. But rather, because she would forever hate Kevin for this betrayal.
Veronica, not wanting to admit to her group of friends that her delusional boyfriend has done the unthinkable, eventually gets in contact with her ex-best friend Bailey (best BFF ever) in the hopes that she will help her get to the abortion clinic.
This is where the plot really takes a sharp turn and trails off into fantasy land for a minute. They pawn the engagement ring, Kevin shows up and has a shotgun pointed at his head by the shop owner. Then 190 miles out of town, he STALKS the girls to a truck stop, corners Veronica in the toilet block and shoves roses through the crack under the door and in through the windows… SO CREEPY!
The girls have their car stolen by some guys at a diner, who then crash it and leave them stranded. They almost catch a ride with a very questionable man, who sends them running into a field of cows to hide. They end up walking to a highway strip club/bar where they bribe the bouncer to let them in, get a ride with a waitress/dancer named Sapphire, who takes them to her house. To find out that she and her partner are both crazed Pro-Life protesters (*I am by no means saying that all pro-life believers are crazy. Believe in what you like. These two were very intense and if I had been in Veronica’s shoes I would have been TERRIFIED) who have contacted Kevin (who shows up there as well!) and are trying to strong-arm Veronica into keeping the baby and getting hitched with Kevin right there and then. They then chase Veronica and Bailey through a forest, before giving up.
After loosing them, Veronica and Bailey attempt to jump on a passing train (and fail) and then come across a limo hire company. They hire a limo, and get back on track to get to the clinic.
From here, the plot settles down a little and I was able to enjoy the character development again.
Veronica and Bailey have truly heartwarming moments in their friendship and I think that they both provide a comfort and support that is needed in order to help shape their growth. I love that Bailey shows Veronica that it’s okay to let loose every now and then, and to not stress the little things. I also love that Veronica really helped Bailey confront some of her own insecurities. They both had each other’s back through some of the most difficult parts of their lives and for that I was really grateful. Bailey also kicked Kevin in the balls for Veronica, so she’s an A+ friend in my books.
I’ll end my spoiler-filled discussion there, but feel free to comment your thoughts if you have read this.
And of course…
– HAPPY READING! –