CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 39. . . .June 11, 2010
Reaction. (Orca Soundings).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2010.
98 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55469-277-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55469-278-1 (hc.)
Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.
Review by Amy Dawley.
"What the hell is this?" I asked.
My father stood up. "I think it's time that we all sit down and talk about this together."
"This was my idea," Ashley's mother said timidly. "I persuaded your parents we should do this." Mrs. Walker was a shy woman who had rarely ever spoken to me the whole time I'd known Ashley.
"We all agree on one thing," my mother added. "Ashley is going to have the baby, and we need to do what is best for her and the child."
But I knew there was more to this. I didn't say a word. I was trying to keep control of my emotions. I felt like I was about to be bullied into something. I felt like I was being ganged up on.
When Zach's 15-year-old girlfriend, Ashley, informs him that she is pregnant, Zach is completely blind-sided. Not ready to accept the responsibility of being a father at 16-years-old, but really not knowing what else to do, Zach seeks as much information as he can about the realities of being a parent. While Zach is trying to gather all the information they need to make an informed decision about what to do with the baby, Ashley struggles to come to terms with being pregnant. She is hurt and betrayed, and in her confusion, she spreads a nasty rumor that Zach forced her to take their relationship further than she wanted it to go.
An already stressful situation becomes more than Zach and Ashley can bear when their parents finally find out. Parental rage and disappointment colour the advice and demands their parents make of them, namely to either have an abortion or give up the baby to adoption. Hurt and disappointed by his parents' lack of understanding, Zach lashes out at his and Ashley's families. The teens are being peppered from all directions, and Zach wishes that their families would just back off so he and Ashley would have room to think and decide what is best for them.
As the pressure mounts, Zach is torn between running away and escaping his life forever or staying put and facing the music, but he cannot bring himself to abandon his parents. After spending a lot of time alone in deep thought, Zach decides to step up to the task of becoming a father, no matter what it takes. He explores the ramifications of his decision and even logs online to read stories from other teen fathers to use as support.
Lesley Choyce has written a gritty, realistic story that chronicles the fear, confusion, and solitude that comes with teen parenthood. Told from the unique perspective of a teenage father, Reaction would make an excellent addition to libraries that already have stories about teenage pregnancy told from the mother's perspective. Teen readers who enjoy real life stories about conflict, families, and tough decisions will find an enjoyable book that leaves them with lots to think about. The high interest / low reading level of this book makes it highly accessible to teen readers and reading it would be a solid start for a discussion about teenage pregnancy.
Amy Dawley is the teen librarian at the Prince George Public Library in Prince George, BC.
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