________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 4 . . . . October 17, 1997

cover Dear Diary, I'm Pregnant - Teenagers Talk About Their Pregnancy.

Anrenee Englander.
Toronto, ON: Annick, 1997.
160pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN 1-55037-440-0.

Subject Heading:
Teenage pregnancy.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Cheryl Archer.

*** /4


I don't think abortion is completely wrong. For some people it might be what they have to do. Maybe they can't provide for a child in any way and, like in my case, they were using birth control and got pregnant by accident. Then maybe the right decision for that person is abortion or adoption. If my daughter came to me and said she was pregnant, I would tell her that I would support and respect any decision she makes about the pregnancy. Whatever she wants, I'll do everything I can to help her. I just want her to make the decision that she feels is best for her and her baby. I was taught all the right values by my mom and I'm going to do my best to teach my daughter all the right values too.
Sexually active young women are often shocked when they find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy. Initially, most worry about how their families, boyfriends and friends will react. Some teens feel so overwhelmed and scared, they even consider suicide. Dear Diary, I'm Pregnant offers teenagers guidance and support by providing the stories of 10 teens who have had to deal with the tough issues surrounding unplanned pregnancy. Using the first-person, the girls talk about getting pregnant and their experiences in opting for abortion, adoption or keeping their babies.

      The book's genesis occurred in the early 1990's when several of Englander's acquaintances found themselves facing unplanned pregnancies. When books offering information on the choices available for young women couldn't be found, Englander set out to develop such a book herself. All across North America, she distributed flyers which asked teenage girls who had been pregnant to come forward and be interviewed. Ultimately, she spoke to nearly forty young women from many cultures, races and socio-economic backgrounds. The ten interviews included in Dear Diary, I'm Pregnant offer a balance amongst the options for pregnant teens: adoption, abortion or motherhood, with no one choice being advocated over the others.

      Even though none of the young women in these interviews come from an "ideal family" in which their parents were happily married, financially stable or non-abusive, Englander makes clear that teen pregnancy happens in all social strata. While the past twenty years has seen an increase in the percentage of young women who have become sexually active, in many countries, Canada included, the pregnancy rate has not kept pace, a situation Englander attributes to such factors as public support for the use of contraceptives and the legalization of abortion.

      Dear Diary, I'm Pregnant will be of great interest to many teens. Not only will it be helpful for those facing an unwanted pregnancy, but it will also increase young people's awareness of the realities and consequences of getting pregnant so young. The book's "Preface" and "Introduction" discuss the research behind the book, the myths of teen pregnancy, as well as the current statistics. The unique way in which the interviews are presented via the teens' actual words, incorrect grammar unchanged, gives the book an authentic tone to which many young people will relate. On the first page of each interview, Englander provides a sidebar that offers a brief introduction to that girl's particular story. The inclusion of black-and-white sketches of running shoes, cans of pop and young women, as well as the hand-written names of the girls as headings for each interview, gives a youthful feel to the book. Finally, the "Afterword," "You're Pregnant, Now What?" written by a nurse, provides superb practical advice which ranges from dealing with the initial shock and getting help to examining all the options. There is also an excellent section on coping with stress, as well as learning and growing.

      Even though many of the girls commented on their boyfriends during the interviews, the viewpoints of these young men were not represented other than through the girls' eyes. Interviews with the "fathers" might make suitable material for a companion volume - a book that would certainly help teen boys cope with this stressful time and assist girls in understanding what the fathers of their unborn children are experiencing.

      Dear Diary, I'm Pregnant covers an important and timely topic, one that must be shared with all young people. Adults, too, will benefit from this book by perhaps becoming more sympathetic and understanding caregivers to teens. For adults wanting to help girls become strong, confident young women, and perhaps avoid the experience of an unplanned pregnancy, Jeanette Gadeberg's Raising Strong Daughters provides creative ideas to teach girls inner confidence, strength and know-how to get ready for adulthood.


Cheryl Archer, a student in the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Education and Manitoba Officer of the Canadian Children's Book Centre, is the author of the children's non-fiction title Snow Watch.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364