I am an avid reader (at least when I have time!) and I rarely shun away from something different our outside the norm. I tend to pick up sci-fi, mystery, romance and historical fiction for leisure reading but I do my fair share of devotional studies and items I would even consider self-help books. Reading the synopsis a few weeks ago on Business to Blogger for the book The Birth of Hope by Jeane Rhodes, PhD I was intrigued. I was once an unwed mother - not a teenager as this books main character is - but still - a young woman confused, hurting and afraid. I wanted to read it and see what this book would hold and how it might empower more unwed mothers when they are unsure.
I picked up the book when it came in the mail not really certain about what I was going to find. I knew in general it was a fictional book about a teenage girl in foster care who became pregnant and how she deals/dealt with it. I didn't realize how much more to it there was.
I try to be very honest in my reviews on this blog. I don't like to sugar coat or overlook things that may be derogatory or controversial. This book has good, bad, ugly and controversial all over it. So - this review is going to be a bit more in depth than I tend to give for a book - and I hope that the author (if she reads it) will understand and appreciate my thoughts.
(1) The writing itself is a bit on the "choppy" side. Although it's readable, I can't say it is an "easy read". To me, it comes across more textbook style less fiction style at times. That is probably because the information in it - is informative and educational for the most part. If you are looking for an easy read about teen pregnancy - this isn't it. It's a lot to take in and although I can't say it's horribly written - it isn't the best fictional writing I've come across either.
(2) Plot and general story line are good - characters are a little over the top to me. Almost unnatural at times, yet - I like the idea behind the book and thought the author did fairly well bringing out what she wanted us to see.
The two main characters are a teenage couple who both came from bad backgrounds and are currently in foster care. Their relationship started as a friendship and developed into a sudden sexual encounter. It wasn't a one night stand or fling - but a one time encounter that due to happenstance and human error - resulted in an unexpected pregnancy. I do love the fact that the author approached past sexual abuse in Tasha (female lead) and how that affected her ability to be intimate with her "boyfriend". The couple choose to go against the grain and not only carry the child to term but to keep and raise it themselves. The families they are living with are both supportive and yes, for typical foster care situations - this book is against the grain. It CAN be the norm - it just tends to not be the norm.
One of the other main characters in the book is Tasha's therapist. She along with both sets of foster parents, is very supportive of the teens decision to "do this together" and keep the baby. She works with Tasha in connecting with the baby as well as letting go of and seeking out her past. Their therapy sessions go into great detail in the book regarding how the therapist feels the past/present affect the infant in utero. There is definitely a lot of medical and psychological information here that could be considered controversial by some. The therapy sessions are not, well, my cup of tea I guess you could say. Although I agree that our past and present affects us as we are pregnant and ultimately the health of our baby - I felt an undertone of "if you think it - it will be" mentality in the therapist that I didn't agree with.
The foster family's, siblings and other characters in the book were good supports to the teens and seemingly well thought out by the author. Again I say it appears "choppy" and a bit unnatural at times - but overall a good plot for a book.
(3) The book looks in depth at how the female body is at it's prime when a woman is in her late teens and early twenties to become pregnant and carry a child to term. I wouldn't say it encouraged teen pregnancy at all - but I could see how others would carry that view. The physicians/therapists in the book made clear they didn't approve of the pregnancy yet also said that the young girl was in perfect shape/time, etc. to become pregnant. I agree - our bodies are made to have babies and the teen and early twenties are indeed our most fertile times as well as the best shape we are in physically. But that doesn't make it a wise choice. I even have problems with young couples in their early twenties who are married getting pregnant. I personally feel that being financially stable (or at least more so) and a bit more mature is much better for the child/family than simply being in the "prime" physically.
I did love the fact that although nobody was saying "great job getting knocked up at 16" they were supportive of the teens choice to not abort the baby and to become good parents to their child. We've all at least seen the magazines or blurbs about the teen pregnancy reality shows. Some of them glamorize it and some of them discourage it. Overall - reality is that teen pregnancy happens
Another aspect of this book that could be controversial to some but that I greatly appreciate is the openness to having a midwife instead of a physician attend your pregnancy. Also there is the mention and introduction of one of the foster mothers being a doula (a trained labor assistant). Although both of my pregnancies were followed by a physician and I gave birth in a hospital setting - after reading, researching and seeing others successful and easy pregnancies with midwives - I am a huge advocate of such if possible. I won't go so far as to be "okay" with home birthing (it scares the crap out of me) but I do think that we could do with a little more comfort and a lot less medical intervention (unless needed) in our pregnancies.
If you are looking for a book to scare your teenage son or daughter into not having sex or using precautions - this probably isn't the book for you. If you or your daughter/son is a teenager who is expecting a child or has a baby and is struggling to manage life, school, parenthood - this would be a good book for them to read. Maturity levels and good choices make a HUGE difference in the outcome of what could be considered the biggest mistake of their life.
In the end, I am still an advocate for abstaining from sex in the teen years. Ultimately - saving yourself for marriage would be the best choice, but I will be realistic and say I know it's unlikely that most boys and girls will or do these days. If a teen (or any person) chooses to be sexually active - they need to choose safety first. Not just birth control patches, pills, shots but also condoms. Double protection is the only protection in my book. Regardless of whether you can get pregnant or not - regardless of how much you trust your partner - you just don't know. Choosing a $5 box of condoms over a lifetime of STD outbreaks is worth it in my book.
Overall, I found the book to be interesting and something I'm glad I read. I did learn a few things I didn't already know and I was once again reminded to speak to my kids early and frankly about sex and it's consequences. I think that the author did a good job speaking what was obviously on her heart. Although I may not personally agree with all the thoughts/ideas/opinions within the book, I do respect anyone who would dare to put such controversial things out there so openly and publicly.
The author has generously offered to give one of You Brew My Tea's readers a chance to win a copy of this book.
February 22nd at Midnight
Open to USA Only
a Rafflecopter giveaway