A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Unpregnant is a funny road-trip story of teen girls on a wild car ride from Missouri to New Mexico so one of them can get an abortion. High school senior Veronica has a seemingly perfect life, but the future she wants for herself is threatened when she discovers she's pregnant. Afraid to let people in her life know what's going on, she turns to her ex-best friend and social outcast, Bailey, to take her to the closest abortion clinic, 1,000 miles away. The two go on a secret road trip and along the way engage in questionable behavior: breaking rules, lying, stealing, drinking, and smoking pot. The characters talk frankly about abortion, and the main character’s friend makes lots of jokes to her about it. Decisions around unplanned pregnancy, teen sex, and facts about abortion laws factor into the story, providing discussion opportunities for families. Other worthwhile discussion topics include the stress of trying to live up to high expectations, how to make good decisions, the downside of trying to create a carefully curated image, and issues of trust in all types of relationships.
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What's the story?
In UNPREGNANT, Veronica Clarke is the picture of high-school perfection: valedictorian candidate, dating the cutest guy in school, on the homecoming court, and hangs out with a clique of popular girlfriends. The polished exterior gets scratched when she discovers she's pregnant, even though she and her boyfriend use condoms. She's on track to attend Brown University on a scholarship -- she's the first in her family to go to college -- and she's terrified the pregnancy will derail her life. Because strict abortion laws have shut down minors' access to abortion clinics in her home state, she calls on former friend Bailey Butler to help her drive 1,000 miles to the nearest clinic where she can get one legally without her parents knowing about it. The two spend the trip confronting their broken relationship while dodging shady characters, getting into trouble, and learning some harsh truths about themselves
Is it any good?
This touching road-trip tale of a girl seeking an abortion takes a lighthearted approach to some tough topics. The authors of Unpregnant, Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan, mostly succeed in setting serious topics such as unwanted pregnancy, abortion, trust, broken friendships, and high school stress in a comedic setting. The end result is a mostly fun but shallow take on these issues. The road-trip aspect of the story is enjoyable. It has lots of twists, turns, dangers, and laughs while also giving Veronica and Bailey time together to work out their problems. The two are stereotypical good-girl and social-outcast characters. Veronica is the perfect, pretty, high-achiever, and Bailey is the odd, friendless, scary kid at school. Veronica's story highlights the problem with working so hard to keep up appearances. She's actually lonely and isolated because she thinks sharing her problems will tarnish her perfect image. Bailey's story shows how some people choose to isolate themselves socially because they're afraid of getting hurt. Both characters have good emotional development throughout the book.
However, issues of teen pregnancy and abortion -- the book's main plot point -- isn't discussed in the depth it could have been. Veronica does confront her Christian upbringing and previous thoughts on abortion, but the girls' friendship is more central to the story. Even though most of the book's topics are handled well by the authors, the behavior of Veronica's boyfriend is an exception. His actions are played for laughs too many times, when in real life he could be considered dangerous.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the treatment of teen pregnancy in Unpregnant. How does it differ from the way you've seen it explored in other books and movies?
What do you think about the tone of Unpregnant? Is any topic fair game for comedy, even a serious one like abortion?
How do you you feel about stories where kids take off and don't tell their parents where they are? What are the real-life dangers of this, as opposed to the way it works as a plot device in a story?
- Authors: Jenni Hendriks, Ted Caplan
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTeen
- Publication date: September 10, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: October 7, 2019
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