________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 2 . . . . September 22, 2000

cover (Megan)2.

Mary Hooper.
London, UK: Bloomsbury (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 1999.
185 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 0-7475-4169-8.

Subject Headings:
Single mothers-Fiction.
Teenage mothers-Fiction.

Grades 7 - 11 / Ages 12 - 16.

Review by Joanne Peters.

*** /4

It's early August, and 15- year-old Megan Warrell has just given birth to a baby boy. Like all new mothers, she is experiencing a flood of emotions and anxieties:

Home. I was dying to get home. I wanted my baby all to myself, to show him off to my friends and to take him out places. I had to decide on a name (I was thinking of Ronan, Aidan and Marc at the moment) and I knew I had to try and sort out what my life was going to be like. I was scared about all sorts of things: about seeing people - especially the boys at school who'd been horrible to me -and about looking after a baby, and about what was going to happen with boyfriends now and all that sort of stuff, but I wanted to get on with it. I'd been on the sidelines for months; being pushed about, having to do what everyone else thought I should do. Now I wanted to get moving again. It was ages since I'd gone out doing normal things with my mates. Years. (Pp. 21-22)
But, as she soon finds out, her son, Jack, is a twenty-four hour, seven day-a-week commitment. A month later, she writes to the baby's father:
I'm really fed up at the moment. And tired. Jack was up three times in the night. He's got a cold and his nose keeps getting blocked up (it's so tiny it takes nothing to block it) and then he can't breathe properly and so can't sleep. Nothing I do stops his whingeing, and then his crying wakes up Mum and Ellie and they moan at me as if it's my fault.

This morning it ended up with me taking him into bed with me and then both of us sitting upright so that his nose would clear. Eventually he dropped off and then I was scared to move in case it woke him up again. I was in a really bad mood with him. . . . I tell you, I was pretty close to chucking him out the window at three o'clock this morning. (Pp. 131-132)

Told through letters to friends and family, as well as narrative chapters, the story moves quickly through four months in Megan's and Jack's life. Frustration with the non-stop demands of a newborn, isolation from school friends whose biggest concerns are upcoming exams and weekend parties, and the realization that last year's dreams of travel and university are now on hold - this is Megan's day-to-day reality. As a "cautionary tale" about teen pregnancy, (megan)2 scored points with me; it was never preachy, moralistic, or judgmental. But I'm an adult, old enough to be Megan's mom, and a teacher who has seen her share of young women struggling with the difficulties of early (and single) motherhood. I wondered what someone close to Megan's age would think of the book, and so I asked Hilary Bergen, the 14-year-old daughter of a colleague, to read it and provide her response.
    Stories set in Britain sometimes don't "translate" well for Canadian readers because colloquial English simply isn't the same. Megan is a lower middle-class British girl; her voice and vocabulary reflect her class and age. Nevertheless, Hilary found that "there was no problem understanding the British slang. The story and the character's actions made the language clear." Having a baby is, as Megan states, "a grown-up sort of thing: a married and mortgage thing that friends' older sisters and aunties did." (P.7) Hilary thought that "the mature subject matter didn't match the simple style. It seemed as if the book was written for a younger reader." Given the incredibly young age of some teen moms, perhaps this contrast points up the difficulties of children having children and makes the subject accessible to a very broad audience.
    Like Hilary, "sometimes I wanted to know more about the characters. Maybe the author gave the information in the first book and didn't want to repeat it." The sequel to another novel, simply entitled Megan, (megan)2 stands capably on its own. It is a worthwhile addition to fiction collections both in junior and senior high school libraries and has curricular links to family studies and child care courses in senior high school. I'll give Hilary the final comment:
    "I really liked (megan)2. Do you have the first book?"
    Not yet, but I've e-mailed the publisher, and I have friends in Britain, and so there are possibilities.


Joanne Peters is the teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364