When sixteen-year-old Sydney Biggs’s pregnancy test shows the tell tale plus sign, she confides in only her best friend Natalia, and Natalia promptly “borrows” her mother’s car so Sydney can confront the baby’s father. But after the car is reported stolen and police bring the girls home, their parents send them away to wilderness camp as punishment. With six weeks to spend in the wilds of Canada, time is ticking for Sydney, who isn’t sure what she wants to do about the pregnancy. As she befriends her fellow adventuremates and contends with Natalia’s adamant opinions on the choices available, Sydney realizes that making the right choice can mean very different things.
It was a big debate for me whether to review this book. First off, I really loved it, but the subject matter (teen pregnancy and abortion) may not be for everyone. If you have very strong opinions one way or the other you may find yourself easily offended. At the same time, I feel like anyone who is open-minded and willing to listen to the other side will really appreciate this story. I'm not saying it will change your beliefs; it didn't mine. But it did give me a strong sense for the struggle that pregnant teens go through. And that, I think was the author's purpose; not to make a broad statement about what was wrong or right, but to show how one girl deals with it.
That said, Sydney's character is about as real and complex as you can get. She goes through all the emotions of denial, fear, avoidance, and anger. She even has thoughts of doing some pretty unthinkable things to avoid her situation.There were times when I wanted to take this girl by the shoulders and give her a hard shake. Obviously her character is not altogether likeable. Yet despite that, I wanted to know what she was going to do. I enjoyed accompanying her as she worked things out and seeing how she learned and was changed from her experience.
I can't review this book without mentioning the supporting characters, especially Mick. Like Sydney, he wasn't the most likeable character I've come across, but he is one of the most memorable. I was never really sure if he was friend or foe, and that unsettling feeling he gave me really piqued my interest. I would love to see a sequel made surrounding his story. And then there was Natalia, Sydney's best friend. She didn't turn out at all like I had thought in the beginning either, and like Sydney and Mick she sure had her flaws. Beyond that, she was one of the best "side kick" characters I've read. Her relationship with Sydney became something of its own story, but NdG managed to craft it without sidetracking too far into a subplot typhoon. There's some study material there for you writers. :)
One last thing to say about the book. Canada. The wilderness. Summer on a river with no parents. Bonfires. Sleeping in tents next to guys. In some instances, very cute guys. Are you digging the setting as much as I was? It may seem strange to have a setting like that for such a serious topic, but at the same time it was appropriate. The setting and all that the characters see and do while on this wilderness trip reminded me again and again of how young these characters were. Kids deal with adult stuff all the time, but in order to understand how they deal with it, we have to remember that they are just kids. Nina de Gramont helps the reader see that by making it a story about real kids doing real things and despite the hardships, having fun at the same time.
Final verdict: A favorite of 2011.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Posted by Angie