Genesis did everything she could to prepare for the abortion, but nothing could steady her for how it would feel to walk out into an empty waiting room, without so much as a good-bye text from the boyfriend who left her there: alone, wounded, and sixty miles from home. He won’t answer his phone, and rumors are flying that he’s already moved on to her former best friend, Vanessa.
Living as a seventeen-year-old with a deceased father and an emotionally absent mother, life hasn’t been easy, but this form of grief is all new territory for Gen, and she’s going to have to find healing in any way she can get it: even if it means returning to the stage she never thought she’d have the strength to face again.
When I first heard about this book, I knew I had to snatch it up, because I can’t say that I’ve ever read a YA contemporary book that was willing to tackle abortion as a main topic – especially not in a pro-choice lighting. As a tremendous advocate for keeping one person’s opinions out of another person’s uterus, I was almost a little bit wary – would this book be problematic? Would it highlight abortion as an act of evil, or a move of desperation from a teenage girl not yet fit for motherhood?
It turned out that I was cautious for no good reason. Not only did this book paint abortion in a fairly neutral shade, it turned out that the abortion wasn’t even necessarily the main plot line. I mean, yes, it was certainly the catalyst for everything that happened in the book, but Bonnie focused a great deal more on Peter leaving Gen, Gen’s grief over her dad’s passing and her mother’s mental health illnesses, and Gen finding healing anywhere she could get it – in the arms of her best friend, her loving cousin, or the new shaggy-haired boy from New York who drags her back into the theatre that her father loved so much.
There is a lot of back story to Gen’s situation, but Bonnie tackles it so smoothly by alternating present-day chapters with flashbacks in the format of a play’s script. It makes for such an enjoyable and easy read that I finished it in two sittings, in the same day. Not only is the formatting and writing style likable, but the characters themselves are just genuinely enjoyable and real-feeling. Despite Gen being seventeen years old, Bonnie didn’t play into the guise of the “all high schoolers are evil except the protagonist” trope; instead, Gen is surrounded by a lot of genuinely decent people, and – at risk of posing a small spoiler – even the douchey ex-boyfriend isn’t all bad in the end (though he’s still pretty crummy).
All in all, I enjoyed being in Gen’s head. I liked watching her cope with her father’s death and Peter’s disappearance. I felt sorry for her as she explained how her mother’s grief had made her a shell of a human being, and I ached right alongside her when things went south with her mom’s mental health. I rooted for the new guy, cheered for the badass friends who supported her, and was overall really pleased that I picked this title up. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, solid YA contemporary about grief, love, friendship, and healing.
Thank you to Bonnie Pipkin and the lovely folks at Flatiron for sending me an ARC of this book! All opinions here are my own.