Delacorte Books for Young Readers
The fact that this book does cover so much time, and not all of it during Thea's teenage years, reminded me quite a bit of both Other Words for Love and I Now Pronounce You Someone Else. The similarities between the three books may be few, but they certainly stand out. Thea's family situation at the start of the book is an unenviable one; since her parents' divorce years ago her dad has remained "married to" his job and weekends with him consist of waiting for him to come home for dinner and enduring discussions about her less-than-stellar GPA and college aspirations. Her mother, on the other hand, is a bit of a free-spirit, but a stubborn and opinionated one. She expects her daughter to share her very firm opinions on family, work, sex, and appearances. Since Thea and her mother are close, I tried hard to empathize with or even like her mom, but just couldn't do it. She was off-putting. Her tactless judgements of others (from Thea's best friend Vanessa to her father) were startling and made me wonder how on earth she didn't get into more fights with Thea, who seems to almost-but-not-quite agree with her, at least in the beginning.
The secondary characters, even when I didn't like them, had unique and strong personalities. But Thea was a mystery. It's easy to see what she values, what she loves, and later on what she wants, but at the end of the novel I still had no idea who she was. At one point Will tells her that she's "weird" (in a good, smart, quirky way, apparently), but there's little evidence of this. There's not much evidence to point in any direction as far as personality is concerned and while I'd expect that to make this book a Did Not Finish, her story was heartfelt and entertaining enough to keep me reading. Thea's love for her even-unborn son, Ian, is obvious and overwhelming. She constantly worries about losing him, doing that very Mom-ish thing of imagining all the worst scenarios. Yet when he is hurt, she's incredibly level-headed and capable, doing what she needs to do to help him. Thea may not be the most fleshed-out character, but even as a teenager she's a great mother.
Much of this book is predicated on the basis of a fight Thea has with her boyfriend, Will. And while it would be a spoiler to discuss the specifics, I will say this: it seemed unrealistic. Not the fight itself, but Thea and Will's response to it afterward. An comment that seemed very obviously prompted by anger and worry set a chasm between the two, sending Thea back to her surprisingly helpful father. It seemed unrealistic, but then at other times I could clearly understand Thea's responce. If not her actions, at least the feelings behind them. Her father, who is set up as a distance, workaholic who doesn't care what his daughter wants if it's not in line with his expectations of her, turns out to be not only more helpful than her mother, but also more concerned and loving - sometimes in a way Thea doesn't quite understand - than I would have imagined. Their rocky relationship is one of the things that makes this book one I thoroughly enjoyed.
Other relationships are less explored. I wanted more from Thea's changing friendship with her best friend Vanessa and sometimes wasn't sure what to think of the romance between Will and Thea. Though it's obvious they love each other, the lack of personality on Thea's part (and sometimes Will's as well) makes the relationship one that isn't felt as strongly as I would have liked. I would recommend this to readers looking for a YA that tackles some traditionally non-YA topics (motherhood, for instance).