Elisabeth’s hand trembled as she lifted the jar of warm liquid. She wanted to run away and scream that it was all a mistake, but instead, she took a deep breath and poured her urine over the plastic pregnancy tester. A few drops spilt on the bathroom tiles.
She shivered, it was so unfair. They’d only done it a few times and it hadn’t even been that good. Not like it was in books or movies. She looked at her watch and crossed her fingers as her brother rattled the door handle.
‘I’m busy!’ she yelled.
‘All right, keep your hair on.’ He walked away. Then the blue lines appeared. Elisabeth stared at the tester and knew that now she had to make a choice.
When seventeen-year-old Elisabeth falls pregnant, she has a tough choice to make: keep the baby, or make alternative arrangements. Choices represents possible outcomes for both scenarios. Libby’s narration shows readers how Elisabeth copes with life after choosing to keep the baby, and Beth’s narration shows readers how Elisabeth’s life turns out after she has an abortion. So let’s talk about both perspectives…
When Libby’s parents flip out after learning about her pregnancy (and her desire to keep the baby), life becomes very tense at Libby’s house. She realises that she can’t live there for too much longer, not if she wants to have a healthy, stress free environment to bring up her baby. So, when Darren – Libby’s boyfriend, and the father of her baby – tells his parents, although they’re awfully disappointed and angry with them both, they at least offer to help. They set Darren and Libby up in an apartment and Libby sets about finishing school via correspondence. Sounds kind of perfect considering the situation, right?
When the baby – little Daniella – comes along, Libby and Darren realise just how hard their lives have become. Darren starts his first year at uni while Libby is stuck at home with a screaming infant, no support, and no clue how to raise a child. Is life so perfect now? I think not.
Mixed into all that is Beth’s story. Same girl, different nickname. Same pregnancy, different outcome. Beth doesn’t tell Darren that she’s pregnant and takes herself off to the clinic to take care of the whole thing. Darren’s not stupid, though, and he knows something is up. He never really mentions anything about it, and just sends her an envelope of cash and a small, apologetic note. Soon after, he starts dating another girl and Beth starts on a path of self-destruction. Not eating and vomiting when she does eat becomes common practice for Beth. But her story isn’t all bad. She goes to uni (which is something Libby does not do) and she makes new friends, participating in all kinds of teenage rites of passage. Beth’s life ends up following a very different path to Libby’s.
This technique of narrating two scenarios through the same character is extremely well done. The experience of falling pregnant changes Elisabeth, and the decision(s) she makes about the outcome changes her even more. Personally, I actually ended up liking the Elisabeth that has the baby more than the version of her who didn’t – and that has absolutely nothing to do with her actual decision to keep her child (I’m not pro-life, I’m pro-choice). I didn’t like the girl that Beth became: the moods, the destructive behaviour. While I understand an abortion is a huge thing for a teenager to process, I felt like shaking her and screaming at her that it was her choice, deal with it!
If you’re interested in reading about teen pregnancy scenarios, then this book is definitely one you should read. I enjoyed it entirely, even the bits that frustrated me and made me want to shake the character 😛