Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: Every Little Thing in the World by Nina de Gramont

Found via: Publisher's Weekly 3/1

When Blogging for Choice day hit earlier this year, I wanted to write a thematically appropriate blog post, looking at YA books where characters have had or considered abortions.

The list was ridiculously short. Thus, no blog post this year.

Discussing this with a friend at the time, we concluded that a big part of the reason there were fewer books "about" abortion was because it's seen as undramatic - with a story of a young girl going through a pregnancy, you have nine months of drama, while abortions are short and quick.

Every Little Thing in the WorldEvery Little Thing in the World has found a brilliant way around this problem: send the girl off into the Canadian wilderness for the first month of her pregnancy!

Sydney's life is a mess. Her parents are divorced and seem bent on making life hell for her - her father lives on a remote farm and eschews as many modern conveniences as is physically possible, while her mother constantly complains about what a burden Sydney is and how Sydney doesn't appreciate any of her sacrifices. So when Sydney discovers she's pregnant after a brief fling, she doesn't know where to turn. And when she and best friend Natalia try to track down said boy, they end up in the middle of a party busted by the police. Before Sydney can gather the guts to tell her parents she's pregnant (and probably wants an abortion), she and Natalia are shipped off for a month long kayaking trip through the Canadian wilderness.

Sydney tries to keep her pregnancy a secret, discussing it only when alone with Natalia, who is dealing with mother-issues of her own. During the month long trip, Sydney goes back and forth on her decision about the pregnancy several times. Thanks to her family issues, Natalia begs Sydney to keep the baby, despite her initial support for Sydney's decision to abort.

Sydney isn't the only camper with secrets, however, and the supporting characters are lively with colorful secrets of their own, including the TV star with a crush on another camper; a "youth at risk" with a shady history; and the flighty, giggly girl who might actually be enjoying this trip more than she's willing to tell anyone. And the counselor who is violently opposed to actually cooking any of the food they brought along, leading to meals of raw bacon and cold baked beans and tuna fish.

Short version of my review: I really, really loved this book. It honestly looks at the realities of having an abortion or become a teen mom. Sydney has a lot of reasons to go either way with her choice, and I really didn't know until the end of the book what she was going to choose. I did know that I would be satisfied with whatever her choice was, because Sydney clearly took the time to weigh the multiple options and would be making an informed decision.

Sydney's relationship with her mother is one of the weak points here - Sydney can get really whiney about how unfair life is and how unreasonable her mother is. And legitimately, her mother sounds pretty unreasonable (is it really a wise choice to tell your child she's a burden to you?), and some amount of whining would be reasonable and expected of a teenager, but she went a little overboard. However, since her mother is only in the first few chapters before Sydney's whisked away to the parent-less camp, we don't have to put up with that for long and can get along with the main story.

There are a lot of supporting characters, some better defined than others, but all interesting and give a great background to the camp experience. Meredith and Brendan, the girl who learns to love camp and the TV star, respectively, were probably my favorites. Mick, who joined the camp as part of a "youth at risk" summer program, has the deepest and most complex back story, but I was never comfortable with him and didn't quite buy how accepting of him Natalia and Sydney grew to be. The counselors are fun, but it's not hard to see how their "hands off" attitude towards a lot of things leads to the dramatic climax of the plot.

I highly recommend this one for anyone who's looking for a book about teen pregnancy that provides a realistic look at the options a young woman has. It's a much needed addition to the teen pregnancy genre!
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