Review: Trouble by Non Pratt

troubleI really dislike putting off writing about a book because by the time I get to it, my initial impressions would be all faded away – which is partly the case with this book. I do remember telling one of our sales reps, Rainbow, that I liked the book a lot, and of course, I do remember liking it. It’s just the details that are a bit blurry.

Rainbow and I disagreed on the appropriateness of this book for teens. Well – it’s not that I think that it’s very appropriate, as much as I think that it’s important that books like this also exist. The thing about Trouble is that it’s a UK YA title – and it’s not only that the category is pretty new in UK publishing (many imprints still lump their teen titles with children’s), it’s also that UK titles tend to be more frank with their depiction of teen sexuality. US books seem positively prudish compared to this, or books like Sarra Manning’s Adorkable (which is possibly one of my favourite YA romances), and in Malaysia, the cultural differences would make the teens depicted in this book pretty extreme. Although, what do I know? Even Malaysian teens are way more Westernised than ever these days.

And that’s just the whole depiction of teenagers having active sex lives. I haven’t even got to the whole teen pregnancy bit yet. So I do get that this isn’t a title I could promote, or face out in the store, for fear of the censorship boards coming down on us. I do get that it should be around for those that want/need books like this, but out of the way of the many parents that would be complaining about this book being inappropriate for their children. In fact, that was one of Rainbow’s concerns – that she couldn’t imagine letting her daughter read it.

As for me, I don’t think whether or not I think this book is appropriate is the point. People should have access to whatever they want to read, as far as I’m concerned – and I could see how some readers may enjoy and/or find comfort in a book like Trouble. And there are so many things I like about this book – things that Rainbow and I mostly agreed on:

1) The depiction of teen pregnancy. This isn’t one of the things that we agree on, but I do like how Trouble handles the subject. Unlike books like Katie Cotugno’s How To Love, which basically skirts around the issue, showing only the “before” and “after”, Trouble follows Hannah throughout her pregnancy, and talked about both the emotional and physical changes she goes through. A big plus was that while pregnancy does change Hannah in a way, she is still essentially the same person throughout her pregnancy. And! I do like that this isn’t one of those “good girl has sex, like, one time, and gets pregnant” stories. Just as much as I love that the depiction of Hannah’s sex life is shown in a matter-of-fact, non-judgy way. This is important.

2) The parents. This, Rainbow and I agree about. I absolutely LOVE Hannah’s mom and step-dad, and how supportive they are. Aaron’s parents, too – for letting him do what he thinks he should, even if they don’t like it. Seriously, all the parents in this book get a special A++ from me, and I think I hardly say that about any YA book, ever. (And, in fact, have a general preference for books with horrid parents.)

3) Aaron. He’s just the nicest kid ever. I understand that he’s mostly motivated by guilt, but still I like how he basically stands by Hannah from the get-go.

4) PLATONIC RELATIONSHIP FTW. I like that Aaron and Hannah’s friendship never get romantic, even if Hannah’s relationship with the baby’s dad is something I want her to get over ASAP. The fact that together with everything else this is a book about BEST FRIENDSHIP, that makes me happy.

I do not like: the father of Hannah’s baby. He’s a douchebag, and I really want Hannah to stop being in love with him, but of course love isn’t something that one can just switch on and off, and yet. I don’t like him. Not that I think I’m supposed to, but I still want to say it.

It looks like I remember my initial impressions pretty well, after all. Must be all that talking with Rainbow over it. (New mission: find more people to talk about books with! You’d think it’s easy with my job, but it really isn’t.)

Anyway. Would I recommend this title? YES. I’d probably ask many questions first to check if the person I’m talking to has hang-ups about all the teen sex + drinking stuff, but otherwise, yeah, definitely.


~ originally posted in Dreaming Out Loud

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