About the Book:
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.
One of the great social problems of our time is children having children. Of course part of the problem is that we have a larger than ever class of people who are physically mature enough to impregnate/bear children but not mature enough in other ways to be economically independent, but that's a thought for another day.
Elly got pregnant the first time she ever had sex, even though they were using a condom. Her boyfriend is a guy who is a lot of fun, but who got her in trouble in more ways than the pregnancy. They had such a good time getting drunk or stoned together. She is in denial about the pregnancy until it is too late for an abortion (and she didn't want one anyway). When she insists that the boyfriend was about to marry her, both sets of parents facilitate that so these two kids are married and living together at his parents' summer camp, where she is told to lie about her age to the kids. We follow her through the summer as she realizes that her husband is not ready to be married or a dad. She learns that she has a knack for working with kids. Tragedy strikes, and then she has the baby--a baby both her sister and her in-laws want to adopt.
The baby was born with Downs Syndrome, and all of the sudden, no one wanted her, except Elly.
I liked this book. It was told in the first person and really sounded like listening to a sixteen year old who had crises after crises in her life and couldn't decide what to do--but that was Elly, she was sixteen, not my age, and when I felt like telling her to grow up--well, like most sixteen year olds, she needed time to do that. She wanted to build a life with the father of the baby, but he had lost interest in her, and there was another guy who really seemed to like her, which one should she pick? She was alone when she should have been loved and supported.
The camp at which the book is set is for overweight children. It is mentioned that many of them are suffering from emotional problems as much as from poor diet and lack of exercise. It is obvious that Elly and her husband have emotional issues--issues about which those who are supposed to be caring for them are oblivious. In some ways the pregnancy rescues Elly. Being at the camp puts her in a position of helping others deal with their pain and turns her into a fighter for the underdog.
One thing I didn't like about the book was the way Elly referred to sex as "the big nasty", but I guess if I had an unwanted pregnancy with a jerk the first time I ever did it...
I thought the book was pretty realistic in its portrayal of teen pregnancy and child bearing. It doesn't push "safe" sex, as Elly got pregnant despite the condom. The pregnancy wasn't fun, and the adults point out all the problems associated with keeping the baby. The emotional issues involved in giving the baby up for adoption was well covered as well. The only unrealistic thing was that the happy ending seemed a little on the forced side (and she seemed awfully active the week after a C-Section). Grade: B+
I'd like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book.