Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Drama Publication.Date September 20th 2012 Pages: 352 Published By: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Website Han Nolan |
Pregnant Pause - Goodreads My review copy: Purchased by me.
Where to get:
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. (Goodreads)
There are all these books and TV shows that talk about being in the present, and how staying in the present will keep us happy, but I don't think so. I stay in the present because I'm afraid. I hate my past, or at least I hate myself in my past, because I've always been kind of a pain in the butt, and thinking about myself makes me unhappy, and I'm afraid of the future, so yeah, I stay in the present, but it's out of fear, and that fear never goes away. I don't know what's coming along in my life, but if my past is any clue, it won't be pretty -- that's about as much of the future as I can predict. So what fun is that?
Being sober all the time makes me not like Lam so much. I love him still, but I don't like him all the time.
Why is everybody always so good at predicting my future? How do they know I can't handle it? I'm the only one who really knows what's in me.
We just have to accept that life is perfectly imperfect.
Thematically poignant, emotionally engaging, and entirely compelling, Pregnant Pause is one extraordinary contemporary novel.
In this extremely well-written book, Han Nolan tackles some truly difficult and relevant subjects, including teen pregnancy, substance abuse, infidelity and suicide - just to name a few. If you like books that are real, gritty and moving, you'll love this one. You will quickly become fascinated with the intensely gripping plot and Nolan's graceful and painfully authentic prose. This book is a winner, I couldn't have loved it more.
OKAY, I'M PREGNANT, and so here's what I'm scared about. What if my kid turns out to be a mass murderer? You know, one of those kids who shoots half the school, then shoots himself? Or maybe a drug dealer, or really, just -- just what if my kid lies to me, or sneaks out a window to go see her boyfriend, or gets pregnant at sixteen like me? I'd hate to have me for a kid.
Eleanor Crowe is sixteen and pregnant. At the time we meet her, she's five months into pregnancy, just married to her punk-o boyfriend, and about to move into her new home: a miserable one-room cabin in the woods. Eleanor does not come from a broken home, in fact her family is well-educated, caring and, well, decent. Her parents are missionaries, teaching kids in Kenia, and doing all sorts of charity work to make the world a better place. Her sister is a happily married, well-brought-up young lady. Eleanor was neither abused, nor neglected. She had a good childhood, in a loving home, with parents that maybe weren't exactly perfect, but were certainly far from horrible. Eleanor is just one of those difficult, rebellious and misguided kids. She thinks she knows better, but she doesn't, not really. She's lazy, whiny, self-absorbed and rude. And, according to her parents, she got just what she deserves: a payback from life. With her parents gone back to Kenia, she's now stuck married to a guy she's not even sure she wants to be with, living and working at a camp for overweight children (owned and run by her in-laws), and not having any clue what to do with the baby, nor herself for that matter.
I can't stress enough how good this book is. I loved it. I really did. At first, I wasn't entirely sure if I would enjoy a book about teenage pregnancy - it's a heavy and delicate subject that is very difficult to tackle. There are so many things that could go wrong. I was afraid that this book would come across as preachy, or that the author would strongly manifest her opinion, by either condemning the pregnant teen, or making excuses for her and her actions. But, after seeing all the praise that Pregnant Pause received on Goodreads and Amazon, I knew this was a book I couldn't afford to miss out on. And I was right - this book turned out to be all sorts of amazing and meaningful. I was positively surprised to find out that the story was free of Nolan's personal or political views, and that it didn't carry any didactic messages. Han Nolan does not judge, she just tells the story as it is, allowing the reader to reach their own conclusions. That is something I really appreciate in books.
When It comes to me and my timing, it's always too late. Too late to get an abortion, too late to say I'm sorry, too late to say I need you, and I'm scared, and I don't want to live in a cabin in the woods. It's just too late, or maybe too hard to admit that I don't want a husband and baby, and that I'm just so tired of being me.
Nolan's writing style was excellent. The story was told from Eleanor's first-person perspective and therefore even more moving and emotional. I really connected with Eleanor, despite her flawed character and every wrong decision she made in her life, she was still a pretty amazing girl. I won't deny it, she was a total brat at the beginning, but as the story progressed, she really changed, morphing into a thoughtful, insightful and admirable girl. She matured. At the same time, all the changes in her personality and behaviour did not happen overnight, it was an ongoing process. And witnessing her slowly realizing her mistakes and taking responsibility for her actions was really rewarding. Of course, not every mistake could be fixed, some things were irreversible, damage done. But regardless of the outcome, Eleanor learned something about herself, family, love, and - ultimately - about what truly matters in life. I really appreciated the character growth.
Pregnant Pause is a precious book. It made a huge impression on me. From page one to the very end, I was totally immersed in the story and impressed by it's emotional complexity. This novel makes you think and feel, and it manages to do all that without feeling heavy or draining. In fact, it's a fairly quick and pleasant read, but one that you will not be able to forget. I, myself, am still reeling from it.
This review is posted as part of the Contemporary Fiction Month feature!
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About the AuthorEvie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and chatting with fellow book-worms.