Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: The Best and Hardest Thing

Pat Brisson
Viking Juvenile
Molly Biden, sick of being seen as "saintly," decides to go after bad-boy Grady Dillon. With the help of her best friend she undergoes a makeover to become the sort of girl a boy like him could be interested in and for the first time in her life she isn't the quiet, studious good girl everyone expects her to be: she's bad. But when she ends up pregnant, she realizes that her new personality and affections for a boy she really doesn't know very well has gone too far and she finds herself having to make some very tough decisions.

A big part of the reason I wanted to read this book was because it's written in verse and I have a love for novels in verse. With some stories it works extraordinarily well but unfortunately with this particular story I felt like the poems were more of a liability. Though sex and pregnancy are talked about very frankly, I felt that there was so much glossed over. Molly's a smart-but-stupid girl being raised by her grandmother and her family history, especially the death of her mother, was some of the most powerful stuff in the book. I felt like it gave a real glimpse into her character and wished that it had been explored in more detail. There's not a ton of character development here, partly due to the format of the book. This is a very issue-driven novel and the despite the fact that Molly's actual pregnancy takes up less than half of the book, this issue took over everything else. I often felt that Molly wasn't so much a character as a type of character and as much as I enjoyed the book, I wanted more depth to her character.

This was an enjoyable novel. There were hints of a great and very moving story lying beneath the surface, but sadly they remained only hints and at times the issue and overall message of the book overshadowed everything else. I did appreciate the mature way Molly dealt with her pregnancy -- not by hiding it from herself or other, but by facing it. I wish her choice had been explored in more detail as it's one I don't think I've seen presented in a YA novel before - at least not from this perspective. If you're looking for a teen pregnancy book, I'd recommend adding this one to the list.

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