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Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan
Harcourt Children's Books, September 19, 2011
Summary from Goodreads:
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 requested this book from NetGalley because it looked cute and I thought it would be a fun, quiet little read that I would enjoy. Little did I know that I would fall madly in love with it.
That's right. I LOVED this book. When we first meet Eleanor she's seven months pregnant and sober, so we only have to learn about her "past life" as a juvenile delinquent through her recollections. Apparently, she was a pretty wretched teen, and has been sent to juvenile detention more than once. Not a daughter you'd be proud to call your own, and if the book had started with her pre-pregnancy, I may not have fallen as hard for this book as I did.
But, as I've said, we only hear about that side of Elly through her memories, and she's already way preggers at the start of the book. I loved Elly and Lam's relationship at the beginning of the book. Lam could hardly be called a saint, and I cannot believe he went out partying on their wedding night, but we could see that he loved Elly in his way, and I love how he stood up for her with Jen.
Elly was an awesome character, too. Right away we could see that she's not a bad kid. You'd probably act out, too, if your missionary parents spend more time and attention in Kenya than on their own daughter. Elly's got a good heart and the best of intentions--she just has the tendency to listen to that good heart more than her brain. Oh, and she also has a really crappy family. Her parents have to travel to Africa to help the orphans there, but don't give a rat's ass about what their daughter is going through (and it only gets worse as the story progresses.) And her sister? Little Miss Holier-Thank-Thou? She's suffered through miscarriage after miscarriage, and wants nothing more than to take Elly's baby and raise it as her own. Because it's the best thing for the baby. (And of course her parents agree.) But Lam's parents would be happy to raise the baby as their own, too. It's like everyone wants what they think is best, but no one ever stops to consider Elly and Lam's (well, mostly Elly's) feelings. Yes, I get that she's only 16, they have no money, blah, blah, and yeah, it sucks, but NO ONE will even acknowledge that Elly even HAS an opinion, let alone will they let her voice it. Basically, everyone in this book (except Elly and maybe Leo) are selfish bastards who phrase their wants in the form of "it's for the best" so they can get what they want. Ugh.
And I haven't even talked about the camp! And the campers! And Lam's wacky parents. And Ziggy and Leo. And how Lam goes from being a pretty decent guy to being a complete slimeball--but will Elly realize that? And if she does, how will she react to that? And will she keep the baby? Give it to her sister or Lam's parents? Does she even want the baby?
I don't want to give away too much (and even though the blurb tells you there's a tragedy, believe me, you'll be thrown for a loop), but I have to say that the last third of the book was nothing at all what I expected it to be, and the last few pages? I couldn't read them fast enough. Seriously, it was that good.
Enjoy your reading!