Monday, January 25, 2010

[Book Review] DON'T THINK TWICE by Ruth Pennebaker

Fiction/Young Adult

Andrea King reviews DON'T THINK TWICE by Ruth Pennebaker (Henry Holt Publishers, 1996)

(Author’s note: This book takes place in 1967 before the dangers of smoking and drinking during pregnancy were well known… These days, doctors recommend expectant mothers give up both habits.)

Set in the late 1960’s in rural Texas, we are introduced to Anne Harper. Anne is 17 years old and pregnant. To avoid embarrassment, her parents placed her in a home for unwed expectant mothers. Because abortion was illegal at the time, doing this was the solution to many conceived “problems.”

Anne initially befriends the girls at the home out of obligation. As time goes by, the girls rely on one another for support and strength. Some of the girls were impregnated by their boyfriends, other girls became pregnant from rape, but the fact remains that they need each other.

Anne starts out as tough and uncaring. As soon she gives up the baby for adoption, Anne believes she can forget this “mistake” ever happened. As time passes, she thinks less about inducing a miscarriage to thinking more about loving and nurturing her unborn baby. In short, Anne no longer thinks of her pregnancy as a mistake as her love for the baby grows.

Like most roommates, the girls at the home laugh, cry, and fight together. More important, they learn to be aware of one another. What surprises Anne the most is how she becomes aware and comfortable with herself.

This is an intense coming-of-age young adult novel. The message for readers is clear: we can survive any situation with a little bit of love and respect for ourselves and for others.

Andrea King, Poplar-White Station

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