Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: Trouble by Non Pratt

Title: Trouble
Author: Non Pratt
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication date: March 6, 2014
Rating: ★★★

Summary (via Goodreads):

When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant via her ex-best friend, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness (besides the rest of the world): Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.”

Can we just talk about this book cover for a second? I somehow completely missed all the little sperm swimming around at first but, um, GENIUS.

Okay. Moving on now.

I had such conflicting feelings about Trouble. I saw it on the shelf at the library and picked it up, read the summary on the back cover, and put it back on the shelf... continued browsing... then circled back, picked it back up again, and brought it to the checkout. Books about teen pregnancy are not really my thing. I get all squeamish and my throat constricts and my arms get kind of itchy... but I've seen this book all over the book blogosphere so I decided to give it a chance. When I finished Trouble, I gave it 4 stars, then I changed it to a 3.5, and then decided this was a solidly 3 star book.

Almost all of the characters were intriguing – Katie, Marcy, Tyrone, Rex, Aaron, Jay, and of course Hannah – which is promising, given my obsession with character development. But it seemed like many of them were explored and then dropped out of nowhere. One of my biggest literary frustrations is when an author introduces really compelling and complex characters and writes about them and makes them feel significant, but then lets them taper off and disappear completely. I also hate when characters start out as complex individuals with both flaws and redeeming qualities, but become very black/white over the course of the book.

I just expected the story to be more (especially with the amount of focus on specific characters) and was kind of disappointed that they turned out only to be a means to an end. Tyrone was the reason for Marcy to hate Hannah. Marcy was the reason for Katie to ditch Hannah. Rex was the reason for Marcy to hang out with Katie, who was the reason for Hannah to make new friends.

Based on what we saw of Jay, it was difficult for me to understand why he mattered so much to Hannah – quite frankly, he seemed like a terrible human being. I was also kind of surprised that nothing really ever happened with him – he was such a big talking point in the second half of the book that I expected something to come out of it. For all the conflict and struggle that Non Pratt built up throughout the story, the ending of Trouble felt like a cop-out, almost as though we were missing 40 pages from the book.

I did love the way teen pregnancy was illustrated. Nothing was glorified a la Teen Mom, but it didn't feel like a public service announcement either. I liked the way Hannah came to terms with pregnancy but she still remained fifteen years old. She still had exams and wanted to look good and had friend drama, and that was a nice realistic detail.

In general, I also liked the way Non Pratt discussed sex – she wasn't overly preachy (if anything, she may have been a bit overly encouraging...) and clearly Hannah was comfortable with her own sexuality. Mostly I'm glad that there was no sex-shaming (or if there was, that it rolled right off Hannah's back).

However, none of these things were enough to really make me enjoy this book. It just felt like too much stuff going on and not enough space to really tie up all the loose ends.

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