I have tried to keep this review spoiler-free.
Teenage pregnancy is a difficult topic to broach. This book manages it beautifully.
Non Pratt navigates a nuanced story of teenage pregnancy with sensitivity, honesty and rawness. It is a brave act not only to have written this story, drawing out these cultural conversations, but also to specifically write it not for adults, but for teenagers. The placement of this novel firmly within the bounds of Young Adult Fiction is brilliant and manages to enact a part of the message I took from this book – that information and education about sex and contraception should not be denied to our young population.
Aside from the political and social commentary, I also enjoyed it purely as a good story. The narrators are two brilliantly believable voices – both with clear personalities we recognise from the beginning, and unfolding characteristics as they get to know each other.
My favourite thing about this novel was the relationships – especially the relationships between parents (or parental figures) and children. Of course, Hannah is beginning motherhood, so it is natural that the months building up to that event explore how those relationships are formed and maintained. Hannah’s relationships with her father and her stepfather also nicely mirror and emphasize the value of Aaron’s role in her life. Hannah’s relationships with her mother and grandmother go through many interesting and poignant moments.
I enjoy that the title of the book initially seems clear – we assume that the Trouble Hannah is in is all related to her pregnancy. Of course, plenty of trouble arises with that – but after finishing the book, the title has far more significance. While it is a story in which a fifteen year old girl goes through a pregnancy, it walks down plenty of other roads, exploring grief, friendship, gossip, responsibility, growing up and strength.
The only thing I was unsure about was the presentation of youth culture in the UK in this book, but I think generally it does leave the door open to the idea that this is not representative – particularly in Aaron’s descriptions of his previous school, we understand what we see as a microcosm society of Kingsway high school. It does effectively communicate the culture of peer-pressure, lies and expectation that young people often grow up in today.
As a generality, this book opens out our understanding of teenage pregnancy, and folds out what we have often see as a stereotyped story into a nuanced and complicated web of life. It allows us to imagine complexly, and shed some of the preconceptions we often carry.