The Low Down: What happens when the teen daughter of extremely morally upstanding parents gets pregnant? What if these parents donate lots of time and energy to a group called Save Yourself for Marriage that they helped establish at their church? What if these same parents tell their frightened daughter that she has to get an abortion, something that said parents were completely against before they found out their child was with child? And then, when the daughter refuses, they kick her out of their house?
Grace Warren is super book smart. But, like any girl who isn’t part of the popular elite at school, she is so flattered when Nick Salter, captain of the lacrosse team, when he asks her to the movies after the last day of school. Why would one of the hottest guys at school ask out a math geek like herself? A perfect gentleman for the first few dates, she decides to throw caution to the wind and fall for all of his whispered declarations and have sex with him. He is her first, and though he wears a condom, it isn’t foolproof. And then, she’s the fool who gets pregnant and discarded.
Grace’s best friend, Jennifer, tells her to get money from Nick for an abortion and “take care of it” without telling her parents. Certainly Grace doesn’t want to spend senior year growing fatter and ostracized? But the more Grace thinks about it, the more she can’t do it. After all, her parents are well-known to be in opposition to abortions. Grace has no doubt that, although they will be extremely disappointed in her, they will fully support her choice to have the baby and give it up for adoption.
Enter her guardian angel. Mrs. Helen Teitelbaum. Finder of silver linings, bringer of assistance, helper extraordinaire. Grace’s parents are sure that Grace will give in to their demands if they kick her out of the house. But when Helen takes her in, Grace discovers that perhaps her parents are wrong in their way of handling the situation. And then Grace meets Helen’s great-nephew, Charlie, which is the first step to proving that she has not ruined her future by having the baby.
Best Thang ‘Bout It: A well-written story, it never preaches toward or against either side of the abortion question. If anything, it helps to show how when an unwanted pregnancy hits close to home, it may change the debate completely.
I’m Cranky Because: The combination of the pregnancy and getting kicked out is not only the catalyst of the story, it is the climax. While what happens afterwards is very heartbreaking, thought-provoking and lovely, it is all too easy. Perfect-ending type scenarios line up and are checked off. While that’s great for Grace, it felt more like a wishlist coming true than a struggle. I do not agree with some reviewers who think this story glamorizes teen pregnancy; I just think it was tied up too neatly.
The only down-side to her predicament becomes her relationship with her parents, people that we don’t like anyway. We want those hypocrites to be revealed for what they are, yet there is nothing in the book that shows anything they may have suffered publicly due to their callous treatment of their only child. Certainly there are people that go to school with Grace that also attend her church. News of a teen pregnancy, especially by the daughter of such upstanding people, would fly around the congregation faster than a falling reputation.
The Bottom Line: While I appreciate the dilemmas brought up by deciding to have the baby, they felt glossed over. Worth reading, but don’t expect any speed bumps to the end.
Screwed by Laurie Plissner was published today by Merit Press. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to Merit Press and the Author.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
Ages: 13 and up
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