I have been looking forward to reading this book for so long, but I just can’t justify buying books in either bookshelf space or money at the moment. Luckily, I work as a secondary school librarian, and this book is YA. I think you can probably guess the rest..
Plot and Characters
This is another one of those plots that just carries the reader all the way through the story without letting go. I absolutely loved Hannah and Aaron, and found their voices extremely authentic. Nothing too flowery, and very teenage. The basic premise of the plot is that Hannah finds herself pregnant at 15, and Aaron (who is recovering from an awful event that we piece together chapter by chapter), who is new to her school, offers to pretend to be the father to avoid gossip. As storylines about teen pregnancy go, this is certainly original.
Hannah is a teenage girl with cripplingly low self esteem (or at least that’s how I read her) who likes to know that she’s wanted by boys. Her best friend encourages her in this behaviour and between them, they’ve pretty much pulled or slept with every boy in the group they hang out with. What I love about the writing is that the simple fact of her promiscuity is not seen as a problem. She never enters into any kind of self-hatred regarding it, and although it seems to be a problem to other people, it is never a problem with the people that are actually decent human beings.
Aaron is less defined for me. I loved his storyline but obviously, never having been a teenage boy, I didn’t identify with it as much. It was interesting to hear about his life and to become attached to Neville with him and to figure out his relationship with his parents and his motivation behind helping Hannah out. In my time reading (coming on for 23 years now…) I have found that the characters that stand out for me do so for one of two reasons. Either they invoke a cathartic reaction – the character goes through something similar to what I have been through in my life or experienced emotions I can identify with, and I identify with their journey and feel like I have experienced it along with them. Those kinds of characters I do find emotionally draining, but in a good way. The second reason a character might stand out for me is because they allow me to explore experiences and emotions I have never felt and cannot identify with, in a safe environment that I can exit at any point. Aaron is the second of those types of character – I’ve got no idea what it is he is going through because I don’t have a reference point in my own life, but I feel like I understand his situation a lot better for having read about it.
I just wanted to give a brief shout out to Gideon and Anj, who are AMAZING and I will gladly lead a chant of ‘spin-off, spin-off, spin-off’ at any kind of Trouble-related event.
Katie. Oh my god, Katie. I just… I want to know more about her. I want an entire novel written about her. I want to know why she is the way she is and why she holds different standards for different people and why she’s so utterly desperate for attention from whoever she deems to be the most popular person in the room. Why is she such a chameleon? Honestly, the character I’m left asking the most questions about is Katie. Tell us more!! I am totally desperate to hear more of her story. Even though she is obviously meant to be the villain of the piece, I am just utterly intrigued by her.
Regarding everyone else, I LOVE the parents in this story. They are not the usual parents in YA, namely one of two things: absent, or abusive. They are just normal human beings with their own lives happening around the lives of their children. Jesus, the more I’m writing about this book the more I’m excited to read Pratt’s next novel. I can’t believe this is a debut, it’s so excellently crafted. So yes, the parents are just great. The only time I teared up in the whole book was when Hannah’s dad was chatting to Aaron (I think) and said something along the lines of ‘parents will walk through fire for their children’ (I would check, but I’ve already put the book back.) Parent-child relationships (or just parentfigure-childfigure relationships) are just guaranteed to make me cry if they’re written well.
I keep on coming back to this part and adding things in but I JUST CAN’T STOP GUSHING. I absolutely love that both Hannah and Aaron learnt that other peoples’ problems and grief are literally nothing to do with anyone else, and that trying to help without considering the other person rarely works, and that the best thing you can do when someone else is in trouble is just take the time to listen to what they really need. Genius.
How have I written that much already?! The voice Pratt has developed for each character is just absolutely spot on. Often, in dual narrative books, it’s difficult to tell which character’s perspective without actively noticing chapter headings. Although the font difference obviously helped, I could instantly tell which parts were Hannah and which were Aaron. Spot on.
There were no jarring moments, or moments that broke the fourth wall. I truly felt consumed in the world, and that was mainly due to the excellent writing and speech that really felt like how teenagers speak. Obviously, I am not a teenager, but I work in a secondary school. She did a fantastic job of weeding out all of the offensive shit but leaving in just enough to challenge without preaching. There was no excessive swearing, it felt natural. Just basically, Pratt did an incredible job of imitating teenage speech in a way that felt real and believable, and I’ve read enough reviews to know that this is a view that is also echoed by Real Life Teenagers. Astounding work.
If you like… you’ll like this
Adult: How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran
YA: A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook; Adorkable by Sarra Manning
Underage sex, potentially triggering rape-related scenario, SPOILER ALERT: incest, statutory rape.