Title: Pregnant Pause
Author: Han Nolan
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 20, 2011
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 3/5
A thought-provoking and courageous new novel by National Book Award winner Han Nolan. Nobody gets away with telling Eleanor Crowe what to do. But as a pregnant sixteenyear-old, her options are limited: move to Kenya with her missionary parents or marry the baby’s father and work at his family’s summer camp for overweight kids. Despite her initial reluctance to help out, Elly is surprised that she actually enjoys working with the campers. But a tragedy on the very day her baby is born starts a series of events that overwhelms Elly with unexpected emotions and difficult choices. Somehow, she must turn her usual obstinance in a direction that can ensure a future for herself—and for the new life she has created.
Pregnant Pause is a realistic, touching, and sometimes very sad tale of Eleanor's teen pregnancy and the response of her friends and family to it. However, when the baby is born, a surprise awaits everybody, but for nobody more than Eleanor herself.
Whether the author intended it or not, Eleanor is a thoroughly flawed character. The kind of flawed character who usually irritates me. Although the reader is made to believe that she is a difficult, rebellious girl, in this story Eleanor comes across as a naive, whiny, needy girl who can't do anything without the assistance of either her parents, in-laws, or beer guzzling, dope taking husband. When those individuals seem to fail her, she starts looking for the next romantic interest who would marry her so that she can keep the baby.
Maybe one can't entirely blame Eleanor for her insecurity. Her missionary parents, who see her pregnancy as punishment for her waywardness, would rather go to Kenya to care for AIDS babies and orphans than take care of their own daughter. Her in-laws are simply rude, and Lam, her husband and father of the baby, is never sober, and he cheats on her.
Despite everybody's belief that she won't be able to care for a baby, Eleanor is convinced that her successful work as counselor at her in-laws' weight-loss camp, will prove that she is good with kids. In the end, after suffering betrayal and rejection on several levels, Eleanor realizes that the most unlikely people can be her friends.
A tale of deep betrayal, a young girl's insecurities, and a mother's unconditional love, Pregnant Pause is a stirring, sensitively written novel suitable for empathetic readers.
ABOUT the AUTHOR
Han Nolan is widely acclaimed for her evocative language, her gritty subject matter, and her ability to plumb the psyche of her characters. Her books include Dancing on the Edge, which won the National Book Award, Send Me Down a Miracle, a finalist for the National Book Award, Born Blue, A Summer of Kings, and several other acclaimed novels. She and her husband live on the East Coast.
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