Trouble by Non Pratt
When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness (besides the rest of the world): Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.”
I was really intrigued by Pratt's novel because of Aaron's role as psuedo-dad, which made it stand out as more than just another teen-mom book. Trouble stood out in many other ways, too. Most books about teen moms either revolve around a love story with the absent/less-than-ideal father or around the mom's feelings about having a baby so young. Trouble definitely dealt with those issues - Pratt couldn't very well ignore them - but there was a lot more thrown into the mix. Hannah's reputation, what Aaron does to help save it, the effect Hannah's pregnancy has on her life and those around her, unusual family dynamics, grief, guilt, and forgiveness - all of these things are elements in Pratt's book. Hannah and Aaron deal with realistic and sometimes unconventional problems in one of the most life-like books about teen pregnancy I've read.
I don't want to pigeonhole Trouble as nothing more than a "teen-mom story,"because it has a lot more to it than that. Aaron's personal struggles add another whole layer to the story. The emotions surrounding Aaron's past and Hannah's uncertain future were raw, with no sugarcoating. Tears welled up a couple of times while I was reading.
The characters are lovely (or, in some cases, incredibly awful human beings). They handled things badly, they tried to put everything to rights, and even when they were going about it all wrong, they were lovable. (Again, excluding those couple of people. No spoilers.) Pratt presents Hannah's situation as it is, showing the downsides and consequences without shaming her. Aaron's character is troubled and moody without being melodramatic or annoying. I loved the way the characters interacted and the way their relationships changed. And I really loved hearing the story from both Aaron and Hannah's points of view. The way Pratt did the dual-narration was clever; she switched perspectives several times within a chapter to show both POVs without having to reiterate anything.
Trouble was an excellent book. It was moving and realistic, and Pratt captures the messiness of life beautifully. Trouble isn't perfect, but the good parts outnumber and outweigh the not-so-good parts. Many high-school kids will be able to relate to Aaron and Hannah, even though they're (hopefully) not in a similar situation.
Once Upon a Time...
As a longtime lover of stories and a believer in the power and magic of books, I've spent my life seeking out the best reads. This blog is dedicated to reviewing the books I read - good, bad, or magnificent - to help other readers find their next favorite books.