Tuesday, 10 September 2019

REVIEW - UNPREGNANT BY JENNI HENDRICKS & TED CAPLAN

Title: UNpregnant
Author: Jenni Hendricks & Ted Caplan
Genre: Contemporary, Teens, YA
Publisher: Harper Teen, Harper Collins
Release Date: 10th September 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Veronica Clarke never thought she would wish she’d failed a test until she finds herself holding a thick piece of plastic in her hands and staring at two solid pink lines. Even the most consistent use of condoms won’t prevent pregnancy when your boyfriend secretly pokes holes in them to keep you from going out-of-state for college. 

Veronica needs an abortion, but the closest place she can legally get one is over nine hundred miles away—and Veronica doesn’t have a car. Too ashamed to ask her friends or family for help, Veronica turns to the one person she believes won’t judge her: Bailey Butler, Jefferson High’s own little black cloud of anger and snark—and Veronica’s ex-best friend. Once on the road, Veronica quickly remembers nothing with Bailey is ever simple and that means two days of stolen cars, shotguns, crazed ex-boyfriends, truck stop strippers with pro-life agendas, and a limo driver named Bob. But the pain and betrayal of their broken friendship can’t be outrun. When their fighting leads to a brutal moment of truth, Bailey abandons Veronica. Now Veronica must risk everything in order to repair the hurt she’s caused.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
The bright cover was the first thing I noticed about this book, then it was the title “UNpregnant” that is written as though in the style of graffiti with a black sharpie on a school toilet cubicle wall! Then there’s the hand with the less than perfect chipped nail polish in it holding the pregnancy test. I also thought the byline of “she never thought she would want to fail a test - until now” fit the situation of the main character of the book perfectly. All these things easily had the desired affect and made me really want to read the blurb to see what the book was about.

The genres I have seen listed for this book were YA and Contemporary which fit well, though the book also covers some social issues that many teenagers may find themselves going through, such as teenage pregnancy and peer pressure.

The main character of the book who finds herself pregnant is Veronica Clarke, or Ronnie as most people call her. She has her future all mapped out and has been accepted to Browns University and she has every intention of going. Her boyfriend Kevin Decuziac is the star of the soccer team and will be attended a more local University. Veronica finds herself in a toilet cubicle at school alone doing a pregnancy test, hoping she is not pregnant. When someone comes into the school bathroom the door bangs and Ronnie jump’s and drops the pregnancy test which skitters along the floor under the cubicle space and out into the main space. Ronnie is anxious about who is out there but has no choice but to come out of her toilet cubicle to retrieve the pregnancy test. The girl who has come into the girl’s bathrooms is Bailey Butler, the girl described as a whole bundle of darkness and anger. The two girls had been best of friends when they were younger. When Ronnie started high school, she decided to re-invent herself and became part of the “popular girls” group, leaving Bailey behind and alone.

Ronnie decides there is only one way to handle this “situation” and that’s to get an abortion, to become “UN-pregnant”. It’s not that Ronnie’s parents wouldn’t be supportive, after all Ronnie’s older sister Melissa got pregnant straight out of school and their parents helped. Ronnie does some research and finds a place two hours away in Missouri where she could go but when she calls them, she discovers she would need a parent with her. However, she is informed there are other places teens can go for abortions and not need their parent with them. Ronnie finds out the nearest one to her is in Albuquerque, it’s just nine hundred and ninety- four miles away!

Ronnie is due to go to on a girl’s weekend for last minute revision for exams and decides she could use this trip as cover to go get the abortion. So now Ronnie has to come up with a believable story for Emily, Jocelyn and Kaylee. Then it’s as if everything falls into place as when she begins to mention she may not be able to go on the trip with them they just assume she is sneaking off with boyfriend Kevin and offer to cover for her! When Ronnie finally plucks up the courage to discuss the “accidental” pregnancy with Kevin she is in for a shock. It seems Kevin had a plan all of his own that involved Ronnie becoming pregnant, getting married and staying home instead of going to Brown University! He even gives Ronnie an engagement ring and proposes! Ronnie walks away from Kevin leaving him at the hotel he had booked them a room in. Ronnie is shocked, disgusted and horrified that Kevin actually planned all this and walks away from him but now it leaves her stuck for transport to get her to Albuquerque. Who can Ronnie ask and/or rely on to keep her secret and get her to the abortion clinic, her boyfriend Kevin, her popular girly friends Emily, Jocelyn and Kaylee, or the friend that up until earlier she hadn’t spoken to for the whole four years of high school?
So, Ronnie turns to the one person that knows about her pregnancy that she feels she can trust to help her, Bailey.

The book then covers the journey that Ronnie and Bailey make with Kevin in pursuit trying to make Ronnie change her mind about the abortion. There are some really funny conversations and scenes between the two girls who go on to prove that your best friend may not be one you hang out with every day. I loved the moment Ronnie asks Bailey about the vehicle they are using for their road-trip. Bailey says she has helped to do up the El Camino with her mum’s boyfriend and it was better than going in her older car. It’s not until later that it is revealed that, yes Bailey helped fix up the car but it isn’t really hers to drive, they are in fact driving round in a stolen vehicle! The two girls discuss Ronnie’s choice in boyfriend material and the lengths he had gone to trying to prevent Ronnie leaving him behind when she goes on to University. Bailey thinks of suitable weird names, phrases etc about Kevin and gets Ronnie to shout them out of the vehicle window etc. There are so many scenes I’d love to mention that seriously make you laugh out loud! There’s a scene where Ronnie has locked herself in a roadside toilet block, whilst Bailey has made a run for their vehicle as Kevin has caught up with them. He suddenly pops up quite a lot. This particular occasion he has bought Ronnie red roses and she has slammed the door and locked it and he is sliding roses through the gap between the door and floor. He tries his best to talk Ronnie into returning home, them getting married and living happily ever after with their baby! That particular scene gets even funnier but I don’t want to spoil the book. The relationship between Ronnie and Bailey is at first awkward and they seem to want to keep each other at arms distance but as their clothes get dirtier, their escapes from weird situations become harder they get closer. Bailey reveals things about herself she has never told anyone before. There’s a poignant, tear jerking scene where she visits her dad who now has a new girlfriend and asks him if they can have dinner etc. Sadly, Bailey’s dad is not interested in the fact his daughter is stood in front of him and doesn’t want her to hang around. Ronnie see’s all this play out and though she is normally the more reserved, quiet girl of the two she goes crazy and ends up giving Bailey’s dad a real painful shock.

I ended up reading this book in just two reading sessions, I just didn’t want to put it down. I think the book handles the subject of abortion quite well, without going too deep into details of the procedure. Both arguments, pro and anti-abortion are put across in a subtle non-judgemental manner. The book also delivers advice written within the story which covers the sexual orientation of one of the characters, peer pressure, everyone expecting Ronnie to be valedictorian. Boyfriend pressure from Kevin wanting her to get pregnant so she will stay home with him, and get married.

I really enjoyed the book the pace was constant and there was always something happening. You wouldn’t think the two girls could get up to so much mischief or so many close scrapes but they do, and the way they are written they are totally believable. Without revealing exactly what happened at the end I have to say I was on the edge of my seat wondering if Ronnie would go sit with the “popular girls” or with Bailey.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were that I had really enjoyed it. The book covers a difficult subject in a laugh-out-loud funny way. It shows us what being best friends really means, and how shallow the 'popular' girls & boys truly are. Both main characters rediscover their friendship, learn about the times they needed each other but weren’t there for each other, a friendship that they had thought long lost turns out to be stronger than either of them thought. The girls come back from one hell of a journey, a lot smarter, a lot closer and much wiser, ready for whatever life can throw at them!

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