Rating: 4 / 5
Jenni Hendricks and Ted Caplan’s Unpregnant is the radically destigmatized and heartfelt story of a senior in high school whose boyfriend sabotaged her method of birth control, causing her to become pregnant and seek an abortion.
Veronica is a straight A student, a shoe-in for class valedictorian, and has been accepted to a prestigious college. She prides herself on having it all together. So when she takes a pregnancy test and it’s positive, she can’t fathom telling her friends and family how badly she’s screwed up. Plus, she’s totally confused as to how this happened since her and her boyfriend always use protection.
An abortion is a no-brainer for Veronica. She’s confident that she’s not ready for a child, especially after seeing her sister drop out of school and settle down with a dud when she got pregnant. What’s a bit more difficult for her to manage, however, is how to go about getting the abortion. The closest place to get an abortion under 17 years of age without parental consent is thousands of miles away. Veronica sets off on a bumpy road trip with a very unlikely companion, and everything that can go wrong does.
Part road trip adventure, part story of friendship and being true to yourself, and part feminist body positive manifesto, Unpregnant is – curiously, based on the topic – an absolute delight and a necessary, honest take on abortion and teen pregnancy.
Please take caution while reading Unpregnant if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Self harm
Oh man, this book ROCKS. I was extremely skeptical when I read the synopsis; I mean, this is a seriously touchy subject. Hendricks and Caplan absolutely knock it out of the park, though. The entire book is about a young woman’s journey across the country to have an abortion and… it’s hilarious? What? How? I honestly don’t know how they did it, but, like I said, the story is radically destigmatized. The topic of abortion is navigated with tenderness, honesty, and humor in a way that I have never ever seen before. It blew me away.
Other than the very necessary message this book promotes, the hijinks Veronica and her road trip companion find themselves entangled in along the way are hilarious and classic road trip mishaps. Veronica is very uptight and serious, and her companion wild and rebellious, which makes for moments of adventure and wildness that really help to keep the story light and fun.
The Young Adult genre is filled with important messages of acceptance, friendship, and growth, and Unpregnant is no exception. This story clearly aims to normalize abortion – deciding this is the right thing for you, not being swayed by those that wish to derail your plans and being confident in your decision, and ultimately having the abortion. This is not a dramatic telling of an abortion; it is a fun road trip that ultimately ends in the absolute right decision for Veronica, for many reasons. So unique and moving, it took my breath away at times.
This is a radically normalized story of abortion, and some readers may not feel ready for that. I urge you to keep an open mind while reading. Yes, abortion is a complicated matter, but why must it be thought of as inherently damaging to women that choose it? The answer – as told through this story – is that it doesn’t have to be. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this novel; I know I was.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on Unpregnant. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!