book coverPregnant Pause by Han Nolan
Published by Harcourt Children’s Books
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Eleanor Crowe is in quite a pickle: sixteen and pregnant, her parents are leaving for Kenya so if she wants to keep her relationship with the baby’s father together she is forced to move in with him at the weight-loss camp his parents own. Living with her new in-laws and working at their camp is about the last thing Elly wants to do, but she finds herself surprised by how much she enjoys spending time with the preteen girls at camp. On top of working and being hugely pregnant, she’s dealing with pressure from all sides on what to do with her baby when it’s born. Her older sister wants to adopt the baby, as do her new in-laws. But Elly might just want to keep the baby herself, something nobody believes she’s capable of doing.

Okay, I have to admit that I did not know what to expect with this book. In fact, what I got defied any expectations I could have had. I hadn’t even heard of Han Nolan when I requested the book, but it sounded interesting enough so I figured what the heck. When I started the book, I was convinced it was going to be a light read (despite the subject matter) that wouldn’t have a ton of depth. But very quickly I began to realize that there was more to this story than I initially thought. And what surprised me the most was how emotionally invested I ended up getting in Eleanor’s story, so much so that by the end of the book I was crying buckets!

The thing is that I didn’t expect to like Elly. She’s irresponsible, she’s made terrible choices, she’s not very respectful toward her parents, and she’s got no plan to speak of as she’s bringing another life into this world. I have made plenty of mistakes in my life, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t have a ton of patience for teens who continue to make mistake after mistake with no consequences, and no ability to learn from these mistakes. I couldn’t have been more wrong, though, about my initial judgment of Elly. She did in fact clean up her life when she got pregnant and she did in fact try to do right by her unborn child, even though she wasn’t sure what “right” actually meant all of the time. I really sympathized with her in regards to her awful boyfriend/husband Lam – what a dirtbag. Seriously. This guy would be out all night doing goodness knows what, paying zero attention to the fact that he has a wife and a baby on the way, and yet his parents thought he was this perfect angel and that Elly had corrupted him! Poor girl.

The ending took me by complete surprise and by the time I got there, I was so emotionally wrapped up in this story that I couldn’t hold back my tears. What I will say to you is that if you begin to read this book and think it is too silly or light, keep going. Trust me – it gets very, very good and I challenge you not to fall in love with Elly as I did.

This is the first Han Nolan I’ve read but it certainly won’t be my last. I absolutely enjoyed this YA novel and recommend it.