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Review of ‘Trouble’ by Non Pratt

TroubleI bought a signed copy of this book at YALC after seeing Non Pratt in a discussion with other authors about handling sex in young adult fiction. This book definitely covers sex! As an adult, I was a little shocked at the graphic language which Pratt had managed to get published in a book which would be sold to children. Although, I am fully aware that many teenagers speak and behave in the sexual manner described in this book. This was the main argument at the discussion at YALC; teenagers talk about and have sex, therefore books for them should also talk honestly about sex and its consequences.

Warning, this review will include spoilers so don’t read it if you haven’t read the book.

The book is the story of Hannah, a fifteen year old girl who discovers she is pregnant with her 18 year old step-brother’s child. In order to keep the true parentage of her baby a secret she accepts an offer from Aaron, a troubled new boy at school, who offers to pretend that he is the baby’s father.

I found it hard to like Hannah, although she definitely improves throughout the book. She is the kind of girl I would have detested when I was in school. She doesn’t try at school, she dresses like a slut, she hangs out in the park drinking alcohol, she sleeps with other girls’ boyfriends and her best friend is a bitch. Frankly she deserves to become a teenage mum. She is every parent’s worst nightmare of how their daughter might turn out.

Aaron on the other hand is lovely, he cares about people, he tries hard at his school work, he doesn’t take advantage of girls, he generally has his priorities right. However, he is haunted by the guilt of a terrible thing that happened in his past, which is why he wants to help Hannah out.

Thankfully Aaron’s friendship helps Hannah to realise what is important in life. That it is better to have nerdy loyal friends who will stand by you than to be part of the skanky, popular cool gang who will drop you at a moment’s notice. Hannah’s friendship helps Aaron to get over his depression and realise he can still be important to people even though he has done something awful in his past.

This is an interesting book, it’s very easy and quick to read as it is narrated in short chapters from Hannah and Aaron’s alternating points of view. However, I don’t think it deals with the consequences of teenage pregnancy thoroughly enough. It ends with the baby being born and everyone is happy but doesn’t go into the difficulties a fifteen year old school girl would have bringing up a baby.

It also doesn’t really deal with the consequences for Jay, the 18 year old who has impregnated his under-age step-sister and refused to take any responsibility. Even though the book makes it clear that the sex is consensual and that it is Hannah’s idea not to use protection, I still think we should have seen Jay and his family have to deal with what he is done. He should get into more trouble, you can’t just go around getting your 15 year old sister pregnant and then go off to university and live happily ever after. Theoretically, he could go to jail.

Maybe the ending didn’t show these consequences in order to leave it open for a sequel. There’s certainly a lot more depth about being  teenage parents which could be covered by another book. Also, Hannah and Aaron’s relationship could be explored further; although they’ll never be able to get married as she called the baby Tyler and if they got married it would become Tyler Tyler (whoops!).

YALC book haul

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet over the past week, I’ve been away. One of the places I went was YALC, Malorie Blackman’s first YA lit con, in Earls Court this weekend. This is my haul of (mostly) free books from the convention. I’ll do a blog post telling you more about the convention when I get the chance.