Book Cover for Me, Him, Them, and It by Caela Carter

Magan: Me, Him, Them and It by Caela Carter

Book Cover for Me, Him, Them, and It by Caela CarterMe, Him, Them, and It by Caela Carter ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 320
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: high school pregnancy, neglectful parents, adoption, teen raising a baby
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: Since Evelyn’s father’s return to her mother after an affair with the family dentist, their house has been silent. Evie begins doing drugs, drinking, and having sex with Todd (a boy she most definitely isn’t dating), trying to capture their attention. Now Evelyn, 16, is pregnant.

Evelyn’s parent’s no longer speak to one another (or her) unless absolutely necessary or they’re in the midst of a massive fight. They circulate in individual little bubbles around one another in their giant, quiet house. Evie doesn’t trust her dad, whom she refers to as The Stranger, after he abandoned their family to have an affair. (He moved back in shortly after his departure.) Her mother, a lawyer, is all about The Facts and has a difficult time letting her guard down to show any emotions.

Naturally, Good Evelyn thinks she can become Bad Evelyn to capture their attention. She’s the valedictorian of her class, participates in clubs, is a star runner, and an artist. The only sacrifice she doesn’t make in her pursuit to stir up trouble is her grades — she wants to flee her house as soon as possible by getting into an Ivy League college. She begins drinking and doing drugs, drops out of all of her extracurriculars, and has many a steamy rendezvous with Todd, her non-boyfriend.

Her parents continue to orbit in their own little universes until Evie is forced to tell them she’s pregnant. She has many conversations with squirrely, petite Mary at Planned Parenthood about what her options are — abortion, adoption, or raising the baby. Once her parents become involved, they decide it would be best for her to live with her Aunt Linda in Chicago until she has the baby so no one in Jacksonville “has to know.” A cover-up story is generated that Evie’s aunt is extremely ill and she needs to help take care of her. Even her best friend, Lizzie, is kept in the dark.

While she assumed her parents would take note of her bad behavior, she didn’t anticipate they’d exile her. The only positive is spending time with her Aunt Linda, her wife Nora, and their two daughters, Celie and Tammy. She receives a rude awakening when she arrives at Linda’s house and is given a detailed list of rules outlined by Nora. Evie struggles to find a new balance — How could she possibly keep the baby? She doesn’t know how to be a mom. How could she she possibly love it? How could she even consider giving it up? In her detached state, she’s free to let these overwhelming thoughts consume her.

Evie was so full of spunk and so unparalleled that she immediately caught my attention from the beginning pages. She has a very unique voice and her story examines how difficult it is for a young girl to be in the position to make decisions that will affect her (and others’) entire life. Evie’s vulnerability and fragility were the perfect balance to the angry, abrasive girl that we meet in the beginning. She goes through quite the realm of emotions, yet even when she tries to withdraw into herself she’s pulled out of her cocoon of loneliness by a pretty amazing cast of supporting characters — lovable Aunt Linda who is always willing to listen, another pregnant girl at her new school, Maryellie, who is unrelenting in her pursuit to become friends, and Celie and Tammy who easily wiggle into your heart and force you to love them.

While the majority of the focus is on Evie’s decision and the time lapse of her pregnancy, every other aspect of Me, Him, Them and It kept me engaged. I sought resolve for her parent’s marriage, wanted her broken friendship with Lizzie to be mended, and hoped for Nora to loosen her reigns even the smallest bit. The pacing is fantastic, and the writing incredibly relatable. While One Pink Line, a book I read at the end of 2012, looked at the long-term journey of a girl’s decision to keep her baby when she got pregnant in college, Me, Him, Them, and It was an emotional juxtaposition chronicling a year of Evie’s life.

[For those of you who are maybe saying, “Hmm. A teen pregnancy book? I dunno,” I encourage you to look beyond that. You’ll be embracing a book overflowing with friends and family full of backstories and intermingled story lines – something so much more.]

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book review for One Pink Line by Dina Silver

Magan: One Pink Line by Dina Silver

book review for One Pink Line by Dina SilverOne Pink Line by Dina Silver
Publication Date
: October 20, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 260
Target audience: Young adult/Adult Fiction (both!)
Keywords: college pregnancy, single parent, step-parents
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: In 1991, shortly before her college finals and graduation, Sydney finds out she is eight weeks pregnant. After she tells the father, he bows out and says he wants nothing to do with her or the baby, leaving Sydney to raise Grace on her own.

 

There have been a few times in my life when I’ve read a book and pieces of the story felt like they could have been written by me. That’s precisely how I felt about One Pink Line in its entirety. Please allow me to explain.

We meet Sydney as she’s studying for her last round of college finals before graduation in 1991. While she’s prepping for her Spanish test, she realizes it’s been 8 weeks since she had her last period. She throws the books and notes aside, rushes to a Walmart, and quickly purchases a pregnancy test. She’s hoping for one line to say she’s not pregnant, but two appear.

We jump back in time to 1987 to just after Sydney’s high school graduation. She goes to her best friend Taylor’s house for a graduation extravaganza and meets the boy she’ll dote over for the next four years, Ethan. Ethan is kind and loving, smitten with Sydney, and not at all concerned that her family isn’t in the same financial bracket or social sphere as his. It’s unfortunate that they meet the summer before she leaves to college when she’ll be heading off to Purdue and he’ll head back to Kentucky again.

They vow to make their relationship work, but time and distance causes strain. Sydney makes one lapse decision after an iffy conversation with Ethan. Eight weeks later she finds out she’s pregnant. There’s a lot of speculation, on behalf of the reader, because we’re left in the dark as the story bounces back and forth between Sydney and Grace’s stories about who Grace’s father is. Just as we make strides with Sydney, we shift to see the effects of those decisions on her daughter.

One Pink Line is difficult to categorize because it bridges young adult, new adult, and adult fiction. We see snippets of Sydney in high school (with a very particular mother who obsesses over every detail), college (with a crew of four tight knit friends), and as an adult woman in the working world (with a stickler of a boss named Midge who isn’t happy about Sydney’s pregnancy). Grace is introduced to us as a young pre-teen who is piecing together the facts that her dad is not her biological dad. We experience her growing up and questioning so much about her life - What does her real dad look like? What traits did she inherit from him? Why has he chosen to not be part of her life? Why doesn’t her mom want to share more information about him?

When I read the chapters about Grace, I identified in a deeply personal way. I don’t know my own biological father; he skipped town (thankfully — he’s a terrible man who did terrible things to my mom) before I was even born. Despite knowing what a scumbag he is, it’s never stopped the questions. I wonder if my kids will inherit recessive genes from him that I don’t know about. Growing up, I mostly wondered why I wasn’t good enough for him and why it was okay for him to flee and not bear any of the responsibility. Sydney’s chapters made me realize what a brave, wonderful, and strong lady my mother is. It put the struggles she must have faced into perspective for me and I understood why she never told me more. I knew all I needed to know.

Their story hit me hard and spoke to deepest parts of my heart. My favorite gem of the story was Grace’s stepdad. (Though I must admit: the whole cast of characters was so beautifully and thoroughly explored. Silver did a fantastic job of developing the family and friendship dynamics from major all the way down to secondary characters.) Grace was constantly reminded that despite not knowing her biological father, she had someone who loved her so much. Someone who would always be there for her. Grace’s hesitation for seeking out her biological father was not wanting to hurt her stepdad. I understood that more than words can say. Despite my own curiosities, I would never want my stepdad to feel less than an ounce of the appreciation that he should. I would never want to hurt him or make him feel unloved.

With great references to 90s style and life without a cell phone, we get a glimpse into Sydney’s life as she bravely chose to have a baby without the support of the father. With only a few moments of over-explanation, the story moves quickly and will have you breezing through the pages so you can piece together Sydney and Grace’s history. One Pink Line is a fantastic story about how one decision can change the course of more than one life.

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A Thank You to the Author:

Dina, thank you so much for writing this story. It’s one that has left me thinking about my life with tears streaming down my face since I closed the book. I cannot wait to purchase a copy for my mom so she can read it, too. I want to write her a note that simply says, “Thank You for your bravery. I love you.”

Magan: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

Birthmarked (#1 in the trilogy) by Caragh M. O’Brien
Release Date: March 30, 2010
Pages: 361
Target Audience: Young Adult
How I found out about it: Recommended to me by my friend Sherry.
Format: Hardcover borrowed from the library
Summary: Gaia is a 16-year-old midwife who must advance three newborn babies to the Enclave within 90 minutes of their birth each month. While she’s out delivering her first baby without the help of her mother, her parents are taken to prison by the Enclave. Gaia doesn’t know why her mother leaves her behind with a list, but she knows she has to break into the Enclave to save them.

Huge dystopia fan right here. Maybe you’ve noticed that already.  It’s true. When a friend told me she was reading this book, I wanted to read it with her and luckily my library had it!  O’Brien begins Birthmarked so differently than most of the dystopias I’ve read. Immediately I was introduced to Gaia during her first solo delivery as midwife – the story began in the middle of all the action. Most of the time, I’m a bit frustrated with other books because there’s so much to learn about the future society that it takes a while to get to the heart of the story. It was a nice change to read something that began so purposefully.  We learn about the inner-workings of the world through actions instead of tons of backstory.

Gaia’s parents are taken to prison while she’s out delivering the baby.  Old Meg delivers the news of their abduction to Gaia, and she passes along something her mother wants destroyed.  When Gaia returns to her house, she finds Sergeant Grey waiting for her. She has to answer relentless questions about her parents and he begins questioning her about a list. Gaia, at the time, hadn’t yet checked out what Old Meg had given her, but she knew she had to protect it.  And she somehow has to get to her parents inside the Enclave.

Many of the young adult books I read are written in first person; this was written in third person and it took me a little while to adjust. The book was also pretty description heavy in the beginning as Gaia had no one she could talk to because they might lock her up in prison if they think she, too, is a traitor. O’Brien did a great job with the dialogue so as the story progressed, I only liked the book even more.

I can’t really tell you about why her parents were locked up because that is what so much of book one of this trilogy is about. The whole concept was brilliant though and O’Brien took me on an emotional roller coaster. I felt sorrowful, distrusting, anxious, and hopeful.  While it does take time to understand the meaning of the list, it’s totally worth the wait. I never thought I would think so much about genetics, DNA, and adoption in one book.  I also didn’t realize I’d be so intrigued by a certain Sergent Grey…

When the book ended, I had so many remaining questions and hoped that Gaia would reunite with some people that we didn’t see come full circle in the story. I am so excited that the sequel, Prized, was released on November 8th. Must. Read. Soon!

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