Written by: Han Nolan
Released: September 19, 2011 by Harcourt Children’s Books
Summary: Nobody gets away with telling Eleanor Crowe what to do. But as a pregnant sixteen-year-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.
I’ve said it before; I love reading books about teen pregnancy. I think that’s also where my slight addiction to watching 16 and Pregnant stems from. I always want to know what their decision will be – abortion, adoption, or keeping the baby – and then I almost always put myself into the situation and see if I would have made the same choice.
** On a side note, I was able to read this novel through netGalley and I’ve been super slacking on writing my reviews right away... so bear with me if I’m vague about some things!
Ok, this was one of the books that I started to read during my whole BEA-NYC adventure (see, this review is so late) and it kept some amazing company while I was flying back home. I was immediately sucked into the drama of Elly’s life; her sudden pregnancy, her forced marriage, and her basic eviction from her family. I immediately clicked with her (even in her whiney moments) and was empathetic with her problems. Sure, some of it I felt as though she really brought on to herself, but at the same time I was in awe of how well she was handling everything. Plus, major bonus points for the fact that she quit smoking, drinking and partying as soon as she found out about her sperminated state.
The way that this novel was written it made it extremely hard to date – which is a good thing because then it has a timeless quality. There weren’t really pop culture references or a whole lot of product spam. The focus was Elly and the months that lead up to her giving birth and then the few weeks after. It was really entrenched in the lives of the people at the summer camp. The character building in this novel was fantastic (though admittedly most of that went with Elly) and the people and situations were realistic enough that you could completely picture it in your mind.
Aside from Elly, you get to deal with her ultimate dick of a “husband”, Lam, and his neurotic parents who own the summer camp. Most of the time I found myself hating Lam and his parents, but then one of them would come out with this heart-warming comment or they would do something sweet and out of character that I would soften a bit towards them. At the end of the novel the only one of the three who I still couldn’t stand was Lam, and even then as much as I would like to fault the guy for being a dick, he had a lot to deal with in a very short time... no, I take that back, he was just a huge asshat.
The rest of the characters in this novel each serve their purpose and some are more memorable than others. Some are also more integral to the novel and some just keep surprising you until the end. The thing is, too, that there were a lot of characters in this novel. There were the campers and the multitude of camp counsellors plus all the family members who play important roles. Yet, with the number of them I never felt as though I were overwhelmed in trying to keep everyone straight. The only one I wasn’t sure of was the grandmother because for a few pages I couldn’t tell if she were Lam’s or Elly’s grandma.
It was the ending of this novel that really made it great. While I don’t think that I could do what Elly ultimately does, I think that I would still feel the completely inner battle that she did. Still, the ending was perfect and even though it didn’t seem quite a few times where things would end on any sort of happy note, I was glad that it did.
Han Nolan is definitely an author who I will be looking out for in the future. This was an amazing novel and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next. I’m giving it a 9/10.
Many thanks to netGalley and Harcourt Children’s Books for the opportunity to read this eARC.