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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pregnant Pause, written by Han Nolan. Harcourt Houghton Mifflin, Thomas Allen. 2011. $18.99 ages 13 and up

"Maybe I just don't know what real love is. But my feelings weren't just because of the drugs, were they? We hd fun. We had so much fun, base jumping and riding up to Sunday River to go snowboarding, and hot chocolate after his hunting trips, and hanging out in his parents' basement just listening to music and getting stoned."

Oh boy!  I was so angry with Eleanor when I started readng her story. She is sixteen and her family's rebel. She loves her bad boy boyfriend Lam, who shares her penchant for drinking, drugs and debauchery. Her feelings change from minute to minute; she seems to be consistently trying to convince herself that Lam is a great guy, worthy of loving. Add to that she is pregnant, and both sets of parents feel that marriage is the logical solution to that 'little' problem.

Elly's parents are soon off to help orphans in Kenya. Lam's parents run a summer weight-loss camp for kids. The marriage means that Lam and Elly are given a cabin at the camp, and expected to work there through the season. Elly wants nothing to do with it; but, what are her options?

Her sister wants to adopt the baby, and even Lam's parents would like to be considered as prospective parents.  What about Elly? And Lam? What do they want? Elly finds herself enjoying much about the camp, including the young campers. She gets along with them, and they begin to seek her company and tutelage. She is surprised and pleased with that, while also becoming more committed to her growing baby and its future. Lam is a spoiled party boy who finds it difficult to worry about anyone but himself and his own particular indulgences. Even while he is cheating on her, doing drugs and showing no interest in the baby, Elly thinks that she should be loyal to Lam despite her growing interest in another of the camp counselors. Of course she does, she is only sixteen.

It is due to Han Nolan's gifted writing that I changed my opinion of Elly as I read her poignant and uplifting story. The more I knew about her, the more I admired  her spirit, her ability to empathize with the young campers in her charge, her honesty and her independence. Once she knows about the pregnancy, she stops indulging with Lam in bad habits, takes responsibility for personal care for the good of the baby, and she begins carefully considering her future.

My emotional attachment to Elly and her baby led to tears as I cheered her choices and wondered at her ability to see what was best for herself and her baby. Don't give up on her early (when you find yourself really annoyed at her choices and thinking) or you will miss a powerful story of love and learning. I promise you will not forget Elly....or Emma Rose! 

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