“PREGNANT PAUSE,” by Han Nolan, Harcourt, Sept. 20, 2011, $16.99 (young adult ages 14 and up)
With a name like “Pregnant Pause,” Han Nolan’s latest book, which happens to be about teen pregnancy, will most likely garner some attention from people who think it inappropriate.
The problem is, the topic is out there — everywhere out there. Just turn on your TV. From “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” to “Sixteen and Pregnant” teen pregnancy is now a part of mainstream media. Beyond that, it’s more than likely part of your neighborhood high school.
While some may think that this is a move toward glamorization, and some of it may well be, “Pregnant Pause” is not. In fact, it shows just how unglamorous teen pregnancy can be.
Eleanor Crowe waited five months to tell her parents that she was pregnant and they weren’t too pleased with her when she finally did. Now the time has come to figure out her options — move to Kenya with her missionary parents or marry the baby’s father and work at his family’s summer camp for overweight kids. Neither choice is that great, but Elly picks the one that seems the best.
Elly doesn’t really want to help out at camp, but she doesn’t really have a choice. The campers have been told she’s an adult and she’s working as a counselor in training. It turns out Elly is better with the campers than anyone initially thought.
During the course of the summer, Elly struggles to make the right decision for herself and her baby. But just when she thinks her mind is made up, tragedy strikes, and Elly is faced with overwhelming emotions that force her to question the choices she’s made.
At first, Elly is hard character to like or even understand. Her selfishness and immaturity are beyond frustrating. Unfortunately, that’s not so different from a large segment of the teenage population, and when looked at through that lens, her characterization is more understandable.
It turns out that Elly is more likeable as the book moves forward. As the baby grows inside of her, Elly matures and begins to realize the consequences of her actions. And as Elly begins to see herself in a new light, readers will see the adults surrounding her differently, too. It turns out that selfishness does not disappear at age 18.
Author Han Nolan addresses a number of hard issues in “Pregnant Pause.” And the outcome for his characters would most likely be different if anyone placed themselves into one of the roles. But that’s kind of the whole point: What works for one person may not work for another.
There’s a lot to like about “Pregnant Pause,” but there are also parts that readers will disagree with. While it’s not a book for everyone, it could be right for someone, which makes it a worthwhile endeavor.