Title: Aftercare Instructions
I'm tempted to give this 5 stars just because Bonnie Pipkin was willing to take on the topic of teenage abortion. However moving, realistic and moving this book might be it didn't bring me to tears; and while I'm not one to cry easily at all a five star book of this sort probably would have gotten me there. The ending is a bit too weak for me given the harsh content of the overall book.
Aftercare Instructions is set-up in a clever way. The past is read as screenplay entries and the present as first person narrative from our lead gal, Genesis. This is a story of hardship. The kind that comes along and you have no control over (like loosing a parent) and the kind of hardship where you made a choice at some point (or multiple points) and now you need to accept it and move on.
There are so many great moments in this book. Especially the beginning and when Genesis meets a boy. Both handled in a very realistic and surreal way. Exactly how I myself have felt in the past; both as a teenager and an adult. Sometimes you're just there for the ride and can only think about the immediate step in front of you. It's clear to me that Pipkin has experienced this first hand and she displays the distance, but intense emotion really well on the page.
My biggest disappointment here is that our lead gal doesn't to give much thought to her abortion after the fact. While this may be what some girls do in real life; I have to say that it would have been nice to see more agony over the morals, concerns and emotions of her choice. Additionally the part the 'boyfriend' plays in the abortion decision is downplayed overall and the ending didn't do him any justice.
As a woman who cannot have children, and it is believed that I miscarried a baby at 19; I can say that the whole realm of babies is a difficult place for me sometimes. Most days I'm happy to see my friends have little ones and be the one in five whose unable to carry. But occasionally I wonder what it might be like to hold my own baby in my arms. These types of thoughts all happen to a woman at some point no matter what her decisions are or where fate may take her. I think it's important more of these discussions happen openly among women and that our society accept that whether people like it or not getting pregnant doesn't come with a survey to fill out or pre-screening. We need to continue to offer support and options; pre and post sexual intercourse in order to ensure that both women and men feel they have played a part in the decision.
Overall this is a wonderful debut YA book, that tackles a couple difficult topics. I think Pipkin has talent and in a couple more books she will hopefully hit her stride as a YA writer whose willing to tackle the heavy stuff and keep the emotions raw and real.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.