A thought-provoking and courageous new novel by National Book Award winner Han Nolan. Nobody gets away with telling Eleanor Crowe what to do. But as a pregnant sixteenyear-old, her options are limited: move to Kenya with her missionary parents or marry the baby’s father and work at his family’s summer camp for overweight kids. Despite her initial reluctance to help out, Elly is surprised that she actually enjoys working with the campers. But a tragedy on the very day her baby is born starts a series of events that overwhelms Elly with unexpected emotions and difficult choices. Somehow, she must turn her usual obstinance in a direction that can ensure a future for herself—and for the new life she has created.
This is a hard one for me and I really did enjoy it but due to having lived some of this I think I was a little more critical and emotional. Teen pregnancy is such a hard subject and Han Nolan not only does good job with it but also touches many other hard subjects while she is at it. The book was well written and doesn't waste a minute. Right from the start you are thrown into what is basically every parents fear and every teens worst nightmare. Finding out that the one moment you never expected is right upon you and you have to face the music and grow up now. It's not an easy thing to face and to be honest with you many people just can't do it but it's the choice in the end and when you make it you live with it.
Eleanor is what I would call your typical stereotype of a teen that ends up pregnant for the most part of it. She is rebellious and spiteful despite coming from a well rounded and loving family. She wasn't trying to get pregnant to tick anyone off or to spite her family but it happened and now she is terrified. Not that she lets on to anyone because she still shows them all her stone exterior and makes out like she is okay with her decision. When you look under all of that she is still scared and her sand for brains boyfriend/husband is about as supportive as a sack of rotten potatoes. This does absolutely nothing to make her life any easier. Although her blessing in disguise is really the marriage and neither her nor Lam really wanted but this is how she ends up at the camp. This is also where I started to actually fall in love with Elly. It's where she learns to actually grow up. Not just the quit the drugs and drinking grow up but realize that it isn't a game and start to figure things out.
The characters are all extremely well done from Elly to her IL's (In-laws) and the campers that you meet. I was surprised at the amount of detail that Han put into the campers actually. It was really like being there and watching all of it. Ultimately this is what really made the book for me. Banner who was sad and almost always whiny really tore at my heart. It was the connection and effort that Elly put into her that one little girl even when she made it hard that warmed me and had my hopes up that she would keep her baby. I know that she is only 16 but things happen and if you can step up and be responsible then I believe you should and without any crapola guy Elly could do it.
Though there was much grief and hardship that passed within the last 100 pages, this is where I felt the most truth was. That being said there's a lot of parts that I feel the emotion fell short. Many times I was frustrated with how Elly let everyone walk on her. Her parents, her in-laws, her husband and for awhile the campers. Let me tell you no matter the circumstance a person in her situation can only put up with so much(remember been there done that). I wish that Elly had stood her ground or showed more emotion towards her straying husband the most. Young or not I felt that Elly's emotion level could have kicked it up but really rather than that she was awesome.
Han Nolan did an overall wonderful job with this novel overall. There was a clear and emotional point to the story but I think she lightened the emotional load just a little too much on the pregnancy front. This was made up with all of the other hard to chew subjects and emotions that will both pull at your heart and leave you feeling like you could burst. If you are looking for a good contemporary book this is one that you need to seriously consider. After reading this one I will be looking into anything else that Han has written!
Book Moments I Loved or Noted
My mom's calm reaction hurt as much as my father's rage, maybe even more. I knew she had grown used to my terrible surprises, maybe even board with them.
A lot of the other counselors, especially the girks, and even the kids, are always either making snide remarks or asking me stuff like is it a boy or a girl, or aren't you kind of young to have a baby, or are you going to keep it or give it up for adoption?
It couldn't be for real, because we come from two different places-two different soul places. I would ruin his life. I know that.
The tear jerker for me because it is so honest:
If I give this baby up, I don't want to make it harder on myself than it already is, but this baby has already been better company than most people I know. Does that even make sense? Probably not. I just know I feel this love, this protective love for what's growing inside of me.
I would underline that last line a million times over if I could!!!