Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan

Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan

A laugh-out-loud funny YA novel about the meaning of true friendship.

“Ronnie never thought she’d want to fail a test – until she finds herself staring at a plastic stick with two solid pink lines.” I don’t normally start my reviews by quoting the blurb on the back of the book but, in this case, that one line sums up both the character (super smart, supposedly perfect, likely valedictorian, Ronnie) and her situation (pregnant). It also sets the tone for what is a laugh out loud book about abortion.

Yes, that’s right. This is a funny book about abortion. I don’t often laugh when reading but I quickly lost count of the times I laughed out loud as this story lurched from one slightly insane situation to other. The topic of abortion is likely to be more controversial in the USA than UK (as the divided USA reviews of the book demonstrate). However, the subject is (in my view) appropriately dealt with. Ronnie never has any doubt that she wants a termination and with good reason: she and her long-time boyfriend were using contraception (she had no reason to suspect he would deliberately sabotage the condoms), her sister provides a chilling example of everything Ronnie would be giving up if she decides to go through with the pregnancy, and said-boyfriend turns out to be a truly sinister stalker.

While Ronnie’s desire to be “un-pregnant” provides the plot, this is really a story about friendship and what true friendship actually means. It’s also a Thelma and Louise style road-trip as Ronnie runs out of options to get to the nearest abortion clinic she can use without parental permission (over nine-hundred miles away) and is forced to ask her ex-best friend, Bailey, to drive her. Ronnie and Bailey were inseparable when they were younger but, once they joined high-school, Ronnie deliberately adopted a new set of friends who she felt fitted better her perfect image. At heart this is a book about Ronnie learning to let go of this carefully crafted image and learning what real friendship means.

While Ronnie’s first-person voice is strong, the book sometimes feels more like a movie than a novel. This might be because both the authors are screenwriters. Or, perhaps, it’s because the scenarios are so visual and, at times, plain silly – running from cows, stuffing the exhaust of the ex-boyfriend’s car with candy so it won’t start, climbing on giant statues of a cow and an elephant, visiting a strip-joint. You get the idea. If we’re being totally honest, the book probably started as a movie script and the book has been written to tie in with a movie. Personally, I don’t think this matters. It works brilliantly as a book and I, for one, intend to be first in line when they release the film at my local cinema.

If you enjoyed this, why not try Editing Emma by Chloe Seager or, for another teen read that adds humour to a serious subject, why not try The Look by Sophia Bennett.

ISBN: 978-1912626168
Publication Date: January 2020
Publisher: Chicken House
Pages: 336

Madge's 5 / 5 Star Book rating

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