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Unpregnant

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Unpregnant Book Poster Image
Road-trip-to-abortion tale is touching comedy of errors.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Information on laws regarding abortion access for teens. Road-trip journey highlights geographical points from Missouri to New Mexico.

Positive Messages

True friendships are based on honesty and trust. Don't worry so much about what other people think. Trying to a perfect image can leave you feeling alone and empty; focus on being your true self.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The story's main characters are complicated and make many questionable decisions. Despite being focused on outward appearances for much of the book, Veronica is a hard worker and matures in the course of the story. She becomes less fixated on what other people think and learns how to be a real friend. Bailey breaks lots of rules and creates a tough image to protect herself from getting hurt, but she's  strong, says what she thinks, and is true to her values.

Violence

Veronica and Bailey have a few encounters with some scary people during their road trip. Bailey threatens a person's pet with harm. A character uses a taser out of anger. A few instances of kicking and hitting. Getting an abortion drives the plot. It's portrayed as a regular medical procedure, with not a lot of gory detail about how it feels. The aftereffects (bleeding, some cramping) are mentioned but not described in any detail.

Sex

The story centers on a teen pregnancy. Characters talk about sex throughout the story, but no sex is shown. Some kissing, and one lap dance.

Language

"F--k" and variations, "s--t," "damn," "t-tties," "balls," "God," "bitch," "a--hole," "hell," "butt," "d--k," "butthole," "douche," "badass," "slut," "pissed," and "c--t."

Consumerism

Several of brands mentioned, mostly for scene setting: Altoids, Toyota Sienna, Ford, Camry, El Camino, Netflix, Facebook, Oreos, Red Vines, Twizzlers, Dairy Queen, Pringles, Tinder, Uber, Budweiser, Coke, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Doritos, Hot Pockets, Slurpee, 7-Eleven, iPhone, and Sour Patch Kids.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teen gets tipsy on peach schnapps. Adults and teen smoke pot. Both scenes are written for laughs.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byElizaDoolittle84 October 16, 2019

Preposterous sitcom-like treatment about a tragic situation

This is a ridiculous treatment of a serious subject, with a string of "adventures" that is a pretty shallow treatment of a very deep and complex probl... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byamh22 September 27, 2019

Are you kidding??

This is absolutely terrible. Why would anyone glamorize this??? Especially for children?? And why would someone want and be okay with killing their own child? N... Continue reading

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?

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