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1. Interview with Beverly Stowe McClure, Author of LIFE ON HOLD


When Beverly was a child she hated to read. Even though her eighth-grade teacher sent her poem Stars to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings she hated to write. In spite of her rocky relationship with books, she managed to graduate from high school then attended Midwestern State University, where she read more books than she could count. After four years, she graduated cum laude with, you guessed it, a teaching degree. And somewhere along the way, perhaps reading to her sons or reading great Newbery winners with her students, she discovered what shed been missing: reading was fun. Now she reads most every day. She also writes stories and articles for children and teens.

Beverly lives in the country with her husband, two cats, and a variety of wild critters that stop by for a handout or just to peek in the door. Besides writing, she plays the piano, searches for her ancestors, and teaches a womens Sunday school class. She also has the most beautiful grandchildren in the world.


Congratulations on yet another book release, Beverly! How do you keep yourself so productive?

Thank you, Mayra. It is fun to see a new book, after so many months of writing and editing, finally in the hands of readers. As for being productive, I think as an older writer, realizing Im in those supposedly golden years motivates me to stay busy. Each hour of every day is precious to me. I hate to waste time. Maybe my years as a teacher helps too, since Im used to a schedule. Even though I retired years ago, I still write out my plans for each day, not that I always stick to them, but I try. Also, my sons are grown and away, leaving me time for myself, which is rare when you have children at home. I do not see how writers with young kids and even teens manage to write.

I write at least two hours every morning except Saturday, which is catch up day, and Sunday, church day. Sometimes, my words are not worth keeping. Other times, they flow onto the screen and a story forms.

What was your inspiration for Life on Hold? Sounds like a compelling mystery.

One day, I read an article in the local newspaper about a young couple that had a baby while they were still in high school. The girls parents made her give the child away. The teens eventually went their separate ways, married others, and had other children. Years later, a chance conversation between the boy or girl (I forget which one) and a friend mentioned an 18-year-old boy they knew that had been adopted when a baby. The article went on to tell how the former boyfriend and girlfriend, who no longer were married to their spouses, found each other again and decided to search for the son theyd given up. And, you guessed it, the teen mentioned was their son. They went on to have a wonderful relationship with him. I love stories with happy endings. I also imagine this story happens quite often.

Could you share with us what your process was like during the creation of this novel?

Most of the time, my stories start from something I read about, or sometimes a little voice speaks to me, or an event begs to be told. With Life on Hold, I basically started with the plot of a teen discovering her father really was her stepfather. At first, I wasnt sure how the story would end or even how wed get there. The characters carried me along, occasionally as confused as I was; other times knowing exactly where they were going. Im pretty stubborn when it comes to my writing and try to write a little every day, as I mentioned earlier. My schedule is flexible, but mornings are my best writing time. It took me a bit over two years to write the story, including many revisions and then more edits with my great editor. Yes, Im slow, but like the turtle I eventually reach my destination.

Did you hit any walls while writing the book? If yes, what did you do to overcome them?

Not walls exactly, but the final version had many changes from the original as I got to know the characters better. I keep each draft on the chance an earlier edition might have a scene Id want to add back in. When a scene wasnt working, I rewrote it in different ways to see what worked best. Many times the first thought was the best.

Did you celebrate when you typed The End?

I didnt do anything special, but the words The End are two of my favorite words. They give me a sense of accomplishment, because many times in a story, Ill wonder if it will ever end or if I should scrap the whole thing.  

What do you want readers to get out of this book?

Id like for children/teens who are adopted or those that are step children to realize that bringing a child into the world does not make a man a father. (Or a mother, a mother) Holding, rocking, and whispering gentle words to a child when shes sick make a father. Attending her programs at school, helping her with spelling, taking her to the movies make a father. A father and mother show their love by actions: love, discipline when necessary, and always being there when the child has a crisis, whether big or small.

What do you enjoy most about being a childrens book author?

The most exciting thing about writing for children to me is when a child or teen says he/she likes my books. What greater reward can an author wish for?

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

Youve heard it before, but its true. Hang in there. Never give up. I have enough No thank you letters to paper my whole writing room, but some of them also contain a word of encouragement. Cling to those comments. Use them to improve your story. Keep writing. Learn more. Attend conferences, Online ones if you cant get to live ones. Keep writing. Yes, Im repeating myself, but if you stop writing when times are tough, youll never be published. If youre persistent, one day, youll succeed. Hint: Dont expect to get rich, unless you write a blockbuster. Enjoy the writing. For me, the finished story is the reward.

Whats on the horizon? 

My chapter book, Kate, Little Angel Sometimes (title will be changed) is scheduled for a May/June 2013 release from 4 RV Publishing. January 2013 is the release date of my Tween paranormal A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat, MuseItUp Publishing. My orphan train story, Scattered to the Winds, is under contract with Twilight Times, and Guardian Angel has Weird Noises in the Night, no dates set yet.

Is there anything else youd like to share with my readers?

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my thoughts. I hope they help you in some way. Visit me on my blogs. I love comments. If you read my books, please let me know what you think.

Thank you, Beverly!

Thank you, Mayra. It’s been my pleasure, sharing my work with everyone.

Find Life on Hold on Amazon

3 Comments on Interview with Beverly Stowe McClure, Author of LIFE ON HOLD, last added: 10/26/2012
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2. Shut Up By Anne Tibbets

4 stars
Shut Up
Anne Tibbets
Premier Digital Publishing
978-1-9379-5736-0
No. of Pgs.: 110  Ages: 9 to 13*
..................................

Back Cover: Mary’s older sister, Gwen, has royally screwed up her life.  Not only is Gwen pregnant at seventeen, she’s also decided to marry The Creep who knocked her up. Now Mary is powerless to stop her family from imploding.  Her parents are freaking out royally, and to top it off The Creep has a gross fascination with Mary while Gwen enjoys teasing her for sport.

Despite her brother’s advice to shut up, Mary can’t keep her trapped closed and manages to piss off Mom so much it comes to blows.  Mary doesn’t know what to do, and all her attempts to get help are rejected.  When she finally plans her escape, she fails to consider how it could destroy them all.

Twelve-year-old Mary is the classic middle child.  She tends to blend in and receives too little positive attention.  Her older sister is nasty to the entire family, but more so toward Mary, who she seems to enjoy teasing.  When Gwen becomes pregnant, losing her friends and status during her senior year, her behavior intensifies.   Marrying a guy who is a loser and treats her badly, gropes after her younger sister, and disrespects her parents as much as she does, has not helped anyone.  The entire family becomes singularly focused on Gwen’s situation, Gwen’s behavior, Gwen’s tantrums.

Mary and her brother Paul, are the only two with a somewhat clear picture of the family dynamics.  Nonetheless, no one listens to anything Mary has to say about anything, let alone about Gwen, The Creep, or any problem they cause.  Instead, her words tend to get her into trouble, many times inappropriately so.  Mom has lost her grip on the family. She cannot handle Gwen so she seems to take it out on Mary, who is defenseless.  Mom is one Gwen-moment away from a nervous breakdown. She is not handling anything correctly, mostly to the detriment of her middle child—Mary.

Shut Up is supposed to be about Mary and her efforts to save her family, but the main character is either Gwen or the family as a whole.    I do not see that as a problem for the story, but it is a problem for the intended reader: the middle grades*, kids ages eight to thirteen.  Shut Up is a difficult story to read.  It is an honest portrait of how one person can run amok, causing all sorts of trouble for the other members of the family, who are often ill equipped to handle such extreme behaviors.  I would not let my middle grade child read this until they were a senior in high school.  Shut Up is emotionally draining, with minimal respites from all the problems and horrible behavior.

This is simply a difficult book to read and I cannot see many middle grade kids enjoying this, much less being ready to read it.  None of the subject matter will be unfamiliar to kids, but the constant barrage of negatives is depressing.  The main character, Mary, is more of a punching bag not only for her sister Gwen but for Mom as well.  Mom tends to blame Mary even when she is blameless.  Her punishments are excessive and often mean spirited.

Having said all this, I did enjoy Shut Up.  Any adult interested in family dynamics and how they can be disruptive to the point of destruction, should read this story.  The author does not intensify the drama gratuitously. She has written a gut-wrenchingly real story.  So much so, that I wonder whose story Shut Up really is—Mary’s or someone real.  To be able to write something so authentic without some kind of personal experience would be difficult.  Difficult is the operative word.  I think Shut Up is something most middle graders are not ready to read.  The subject matter is intense, unrelenting, and depressing.

Read an Except HERE.

……………………………….

Shut Up

Author:  Anne Tibbets   website
Publisher:  Premier Digital Publishing   website
Release Date: February 28, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-9379-5736-0
Number of Pages: 110
Ages: intended for 8 to 13*

GoodReads lists as young adult


Filed under: 4stars, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: discord, family disfunction, family relationships, middle child, runaways, teen marriage, teen pregnancy

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3. Hooked by Catherine Greenman




Thea has been her own care-giver, since mom is flighty and dad seems Aspergers-esque. At the prestigious high school she meets a mesmerizing young man and falls immediately in love with him, Will. Hooked. He is a girl’s dream come true, even keeping their romance hot after he leaves for Columbia. During one love-making session, they do not use protection and Thea becomes pregnant. She tells everyone that she is aborting the baby, but leaves the procedure table, never to return. Both set of parents give them money to begin their lives together with Ian, the baby to which Thea is eternally hooked. Columbia is a must in this arrangement, and Thea worries their relationship into confrontations. Will has been traumatized since Ian’s birth, and when Thea accidentally burns Ian, Will explodes with a demand the adoption of Ian so their lives can go forward. That night Thea packs up to live with her father, the fellow I feel has AS. There are bumps, but things work out. Thea crochets adult replicas of her childhood bikini, and despite her father’s negativity, she persists in her hooked hobby becoming a money-maker. And Dad uses his mathematical skills to admit the market, and help with production. Will? They talk weekly, and there is room for more in their relationship. This is an powerful novel about the fears of a teen mom coming into being a parent, her fears, concern for her baby’s safety, and the epiphanies she has about parenthood, particularly about her parents. Will and Thea’s sex scenes are a bit too much for younger readers. But this would be excellent for a teen parenting class’s novel.

ENDERS' Rating: ****
Catherine's Website

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4. What Can't Wait


What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez, Carolrhoda Books, 2011, 234 pp, ISBN: 0761361553


Recap:
Marisa is the good daughter: cooking for her father and brother, babysitting whenever her sister asks, giving half of her paycheck to the family each month.


But Marisa dreams of going to the University of Texas to study engineering, and ber calculus teacher thinks that Marisa is actually smart enough to make it happen.


But her father has all but forbidden her to go to college.
Her mother doesn't want her to leave home.
Her sister needs her to be a full-time babysitter for her niece. 
So college can wait. Family can't, right?


Review:
What Can't Wait really struck a chord with me. I saw so much of myself in Marisa's calculus teacher. Ms. Ford was constantly pushing Marisa, telling her not to make excuses, emphasizing that college was her "ticket out." But as the reader of Marisa's story, I knew that she was barely keeping it together - that she was bound by duty and loyalty to her family, and most especially to her niece. I actually found myself getting angry at Ms. Ford for not cutting her some slack. Why couldn't she try to understand what Marisa was going through? At the same time, I kept flashing back to conversations that I had with my own students. Pushing, pushing, and pushing them to do their best, to be the best - even when I had no idea what they were up against outside of the confines of our school. But then at the same time, wasn't Ms. Ford ultimately right? No matter how valid an excuse is, it's still an excuse. At some point, everyone has to decide for themselves "what can't wait," and then follow through and live with that decision.


Ashley Hope Perez has written a novel that is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes uplifting, and always 100% realistic. She has given her readers a candid look at what it might mean to be a part of a Mexican family. She has infused the Spanish language into nearly every paragraph, making her readers feel like they are truly listening in to Marisa's world. She has forced me to reexamine my own though

4 Comments on What Can't Wait, last added: 2/18/2012
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5. Ypulse Essentials: Scholastic Gets Teens Reading, Teen Pregnancy Down In U.S., YouTube Gets Original

Scholastic debuts This Is Teen (aimed at getting more teens into reading by connecting them with authors and each other via a social network. Here’s a list of 50 books (every 11 year old should read. We second putting Treasure Island on the... Read the rest of this post

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6. Ypulse Essentials: Machinima, Teen.com TV, The Kids' International Film Festival

Machinima (like YouTube for gamers, Machinima videos feature custom branded content that mimic the style and tone of video games) (Ad Age, Reg. required) - Facebook concedes control (to users after the TOS debacle. Now members will have a say over... Read the rest of this post

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7. It Takes Two To Prevent Teen Pregnancy: How To Reach The Guys

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of speaking at a National Press Club event organized by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy addressing the 5 percent increase in the teen birth rate. I spoke on a panel that addressed... Read the rest of this post

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8. Will MTV's '16 And Pregnant' Be Part Of The Solution (Or The Problem)?

Last night I watched an episode from MTV's new series "16 and Pregnant." Watching "Maci" attempt to ride a four-wheeler at the end of her pregnancy made me wonder if critics who have said the series is more interested in entertaining than educating... Read the rest of this post

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9. Fact of Life #31 by Denise Vega



I just finished Fact of Life #31, and it has already won a Colorado award for YAs and is coming out in paperback November 2009.

#31 continues a trend of books about capable, out-of-the-mainstream teens that have just the right amount of quirk, wit, and teen-society apathy to give a glimpse into a wonderful character. That said, Kat has amazing talents: art, athleticism, and discernment about people. The problem is that her mother, Abra. is too busy with her midwifery patients to notice. Kat goes through her first romance, and Abra hasn't a clue. Fated stories weave the intertwining the school's social elite, a fantastic boyfriend, Kat' little sister and parents and Kat into a complex and great story. Denise alerts readers on her website that the book is for older teens due to more mature material. You will love it.


ENDERS Rating: Didn't want to put it down.

Denis Vega's Website

0 Comments on Fact of Life #31 by Denise Vega as of 9/13/2009 2:33:00 AM
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10. Star in the Middle


At age sixteen, Star's life has changed now that she's the mother of a baby boy. She finds it's tough to be a parent and tries to do her best. Wilson, the birthfather, is in denial. Then something happens that brings them together. One is a dark secret that will change both of them. Star in the Middle is a story of teen pregnancy told through both birthparent's point of view. Read more of my review at YA Books Central.

0 Comments on Star in the Middle as of 10/17/2009 6:27:00 PM
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11. Stop The 'Trash' Talk: How To Change Stereotypes Around Pregnant Teens

Earlier this week USA Today reported on a recent study of teen parents that found most are not living in poverty or from single-parent homes. The statistics from the article: - 39% [of teens who report having a baby or fathering a child] lived with... Read the rest of this post

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12. Ypulse Essentials: Glee Goes For Gold, YA Decade, Teen Pregnancy Rates Rise

'Glee' goes for the gold (as in Globes, with a win for Best Comedy or Musical TV series, and record with killer soundtrack sales. Plus New York Magazine recommends "The In-Betweeners" on BBC America, "which could be best described as the sitcom... Read the rest of this post

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13. Ypulse Essentials: RIP JD Salinger, Diesel Sells Stupid, Teen Pregnancy Scare Tactics

JD Salinger died today at 91 (Leaving behind the timeless coming of age book still being taught in English classes everywhere) -Diesel gets stupid (and hopes young adults will too in a new print campaign and ugc promotion. Apparently the idea is... Read the rest of this post

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14. Ypulse Essentials: Memphis Teen Pregnancy Epidemic Overblown, The Amelia Bloomer Project, Tech Skills Vs. Life Skills

Alex Pettyfer in 'The Mortal Instruments' (Taking one step closer to Robert Pattinson/Taylor Lautner territory, the "I Am Number Four" star has been offered the lead in another hit YA-franchise heading to theaters. Meanwhile, "Pride and Prejudice... Read the rest of this post

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15. Wither (Chemical Garden, #1), by Lauren DeStefano


Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Age Group: Young Adult
Categories: Paranormal, Dystopian, Teen Pregnancy, Kidnapping,  
Source: Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab Program
Overall: 5 Monkeys
Read on March 2011


Summary from Goodreads
What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.
My Opinion:

Wither is a great book to start off a series. I loved it!

We're first introduced to our main character, Rhine, and the world she lives in. How it's normal for her and her brother -and most kids their age- to be orphans and live alone, fending for themselves. How it's normal for them to have fences and tricks to keep robbers -kids trying to get something to eat, or Gatherers looking for brides to sell- away. How girls having babies at ages as early as 12 is okay. 

Rhine is tricked into the open arms of the Gatherers and ends up at the back of a van with a dozen other girls. What seems to her to be days later, the doors of the van open, and three girls are picked out. Rhine is one of them. The others are disposable. The gun shots can be heard even from the inside of the rich, ominous limousine the three girls are taken to. 

16. Break-Time Buzz

This is Buzz Week, and I’d like to offer up some break-time musing for when you’ve pushed your work aside.

Recently I saw a coffee mug asking, “If Failure Were Not an Option, What Would You Accomplish?” I spent some time pondering it and then realized--eureka!--I’d become an Olympic Ski Jumper.


Realistically, however, there are numerous problems with this, starting with the fact that there is no Women’s Olympic Ski Jumping team. And moving to the little detail that I haven’t skied in years, I get dizzy at high altitudes, and I won’t ride on a ski lift because, well, I’m afraid it’s going to stall out and leave me dangling for many hopeless and frostbit-laden hours. Oh, yeah, and I’m also past my Olympic “prime”.

So me as an Olympic Ski Jumper? Dream on.

The thing is, I do. For years, I have watched the Winter Olympics and embarrassed my family by sitting forward in my seat, my “skis” perfectly aligned on the carpet. Then I’ve taken off...soaring, soaring, soaring...until the moment is JUST right for the perfect and record-setting landing. Which results in a gold medal. Natch.

Last summer I visited the Innsbruck, Austria Olympic Ski Park, and wandered the grounds, my fantasies running wild. Here’s me, bravely approaching the railing, a whole fifteen or twenty rows from the ground.


But just so you know, in my mind, I was in the air and flying high...

How about you? If failure were not an option, what would you accomplish?

Tina

www.tinaferraro.com
Top Ten Uses for An Unworn Prom Dress, on sale now
How to Hook a Hottie, Spring 2008

17 Comments on Break-Time Buzz, last added: 3/29/2007
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17. China leads in mass surveillance. Will the West follow?

James B. Rule, author of Privacy in Peril: How We are Sacrificing a Fundamental Right in Exchange for Security and Convenience is Distinguished Affiliated Scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Society at the University of California, Berkeley and a former fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He is also a winner of the C. Wright Mills Award. Privacy in Peril looks at the legal ways in which our private data is used by the government and private industry. In the article below Rule reflects on an article that claims that the average American is caught on film 200 times a day.

China is gearing up for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing—determined to ensure that no demonstrations, terrorist events or unruly crowds mar the bright face it intends to show the world. To that end, the Party leadership is mobilizing sophisticated technologies to keep track of potentially disruptive personalities. Relying on IBM and other western companies, the authorities are planning to monitor the movements of crowds by computer and to respond instantly to any hint of trouble. (more…)

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18. Cognitive Dissonance

Definition:

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon which refers to the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation


That's something I experienced this morning when I picked up my daughter's copy of Girl's Life. Well, if I'm truthful it's our copy - I read that magazine cover to cover, along with Discovery Girls and American Girl, just to get my brain back into middle grade mode after writing about politics and my other "grown up" stuff.

There, in between "Gossip Girls: What to do when crews get catty" and "Quiz! What's your flirt style?" and "What's your crush-snagging strategy?" was "When you least expect it - it only takes one time" - an article about teen pregnancy.

As the editor's letter said:
"It's not like we didn't know there are sexually active 13 year-olds out there. It's just that we knew, statistically, there were (thankfully) very few of them. And in the 14 years we've been doing GL, teen pregnancy has been on the downswing - each year, fewer and fewer kids were having kids.

But not any more: A just-released report shows that the number of pregnant teens actually increased in 2006. The first time in over a decade.


I try to keep politics out of this blog, but I can't this time. We can thank the Bush Administration and their ridiculous experiment called "Abstinence only education."

And I can also thank the dysfunctional Spears family for the look of utter shock and horror on my 11 year-old's face when she heard that Zoe 101 was pregnant. I would have preferred to have that teachable moment about sex a little later than 11.

On a less controversial note, thank you everyone for the kind words about Sandy. My daughter and I read Cynthia Rylant's beautiful book "Dog Heaven" on Wednesday night. I got as far as page two before I was bawling.

It's weird and strange and quiet around the house with Sandy. We need a puppy. ASAP. My last two dogs have been rescue dogs, but after what we've been through with Sandy, I decided that this time we're going to get a puppy from a breeder so that we can ensure our dog is properly trained and socialized. And I think we're going to take a leaf out of [info]amanda_marrone's book and get a Havanese.

Last Sunday, we went to visit Amanda and her kids so that my kids could meet the amazingly adorable Griffin. Son was convinced we should get a bigger dog, but I'm getting older and I'm just not up to the energy demands of a big dog. But after meeting Griffin, I think J is convinced. How could one not be? I mean look at the cuteness here:



So we're waiting to hear back from the breeder who lives here in Greenwich about when we can get our pupper. I hope it's really soon.

It was great to meet Amanda and her kids. And I'm now halfway through Uninvited and loving it!

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19. Ypulse Essentials: ‘HSM 3′ On MySpace, Club Penguin Times, Teens Wary Of Mobile Ads

‘High School Musical 3′ on MySpace (since most of the viewers are over 14, right?) - Club Penguin’s newspaper (doing better than its real world counterparts - kinda funny) (Wired) - Smart girls rock! (new Vanilla Star Jeans ad... Read the rest of this post

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20. Teen pregnancy/parents fiction?


In the past six days,

  1. a teen girl asked me for fiction books about teen pregnancy;
  2. I read C.K. Kelly Martin’s I Know It’s Over (review forthcoming; basically, it’s excellent and you should read it); and
  3. it was announced that Sarah Palin’s seventeen-year-old daughter is pregnant.*

When I was helping the girl who wanted teen pregnancy fiction, I had a really hard time trying to think of recent books that focus on the girl, not the guy. It’s great that we’re seeing books about teen fathers, but it seems like there are more of these books now (like The First Part Last, Slam, Mahalia, Hanging on to Max, even The Nature of Jade) than there are about the teen who is actually pregnant. And in a way, it kind of bothers me that I could more easily think of the books about guys, because in real life, how many teen mothers will end up raising their child on their own?

Anyway, it’s booklist creation time. Contemporary realistic fiction about teen pregnancy or teen parents published in the last, oh, ten years narrated by/focusing on a girl who got pregnant or the guy who got her pregnant. Besides the books listed above and Linda Oatman High’s upcoming Planet Pregnancy, I’ve found:

  • Baby Girl by Lenora Adams
  • Angel’s Choice by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
  • Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn
  • Butterflies in May by Karen Hart
  • Dancing Naked by Shelley Hrdlitschka
  • My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson
  • One Night by Margaret Wild

What else is there?

* See the Freakonomics blog for some interesting stats about teen pregnancy (via)

10 Comments on Teen pregnancy/parents fiction?, last added: 9/6/2008
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21. I Know It’s Over by C. K. Kelly Martin


Nick is sixteen and still in love with Sasha when she tells him she thinks they need a break, still in love with her weeks later when she tells him she’s pregnant. In her debut novel, C. K. Kelly Martin writes with precision and honesty about an emotional subject: first love. I Know It’s Over traces the arc of Nick’s relationship with Sasha from the beginning through the end.

The book actually opens with Sasha’s big announcement, then goes back in time as Nick recalls first the events that led to their relationship, then the relationship itself. I think this structure makes the story even more effective. We know from the book description that a pregnancy is involved, and by mentioning it in the beginning, Martin, and the reader, can then focus on the entirety of Nick’s relationship with Sasha, as well as with his family and friends. Instead of waiting for the revelation, we read for the story behind it. The pace is measured and never rushed, but Nick is such a compelling character that I couldn’t put the book down. He’s flawed, sometimes awkward, popular enough that a friend is surprised that Sasha is the one who ends the relationship, but most of all, he’s real. 

I don’t want to get too spoilery (read the Publishers Weekly review for that), but I do want to say that I really admired the ending. It was perfect for Nick and Sasha, and perfect for the book. That’s something that could be said about the entire book, actually. Martin sticks with emotional honesty although it’s sometimes messy and uncomfortable. Even when Nick and Sasha make poor decisions, they’re honest ones that feel true to the characters and not a device to increase the drama or length of the book. Some people won’t like the ending, but I thought it was the way the book needed to end. Any other ending would have been false and dishonest and frankly unworthy of Nick and Sasha. 

I Know It’s Over is a very character-driven novel, but the writing is so good I wouldn’t be surprised if teens who usually read more plot-heavy books also enjoy it. Plus, the teens I’ve mentioned the book to have been intrigued by the fact that it’s about teen pregnancy and relationships from a male perspective. The writing reminded me a lot of Sara Zarr, so if you’re a Zarr fan, check this book out when it’s published on September 23.

4 Comments on I Know It’s Over by C. K. Kelly Martin, last added: 9/17/2008
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