People who live in the UK might have heard about the YA Book Prize: it's an award for the best UK young adult book and the winner will be announced in March. However, there is already a shortlist with 10 of the best UK YA books of 2014. Up until March, I will read each of these books (one a week) and post a review - I'm reading the books in the same order as the YA Book Prize twitter account is.
Trouble by Non Pratt is the 9th book I’ve read of the YA book Prize shortlist and let me tell you - they definitely left some of the best until last.
In this dazzling debut novel, a pregnant teen learns the meaning of friendship—from the boy who pretends to be her baby’s father.
When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant via her ex-best friend, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness (besides the rest of the world): Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.”
Told in alternating perspectives between Hannah and Aaron, Trouble is the story of two teenagers helping each other to move forward in the wake of tragedy and devastating choices. As you read about their year of loss, regret, and hope, you’ll remember your first, real best friend—and how they were like a first love.
It seems like the British writers are big on giving their readers more than one perspective. Just like Lobsters, Salvage and Goose, Trouble follows the perspective of two very different characters. Hannah is an insecure teenage girl who is desperate to feel loved - which eventually leads to some pretty controversial decisions she makes. Aaron is new in town and wants to fit in, but he’s not sure where exactly he wants to find in. So both teenagers are looking for their place in the world, like most teens are, but both go about it in very different ways.
The strength of this particular book is that the perspectives are both done so successfully. I must admit that I cringed a bit when I read the back of this book - it sounded very 16 & Pregnant and I wasn’t sure how that was going to translate in a great book. But, it’s not 16 & Pregnant at all. It’s realistic. Raw. Both voices are so real that you can’t help but relate with both of them. It might be harder for boys to relate to Hannah’s pregnancy struggles, but I think it’s important they try. And for girls, Aaron is very very easy to relate to - he might be a guy but I definitely had some of the same struggles when I was a teenager.
I don’t want to bore on about the pregnancy theme, but I think it’s important. With all the talk about teens and censorship, what should we do about a teenage pregnancy book?
In my opinion, everyone should read this book because of the way it handles the theme. It doesn’t promote teenage pregnancy, Hannah is pretty damn upset she’s pregnant and things definitely don’t go according to her plan, but it also doesn’t condemn it. At no point is Hannah judged by the author or does he come across as “slutty”. I think this is the strength of a British author like Non Pratt, who is more free compared to American authors, to discuss such a controversial themes in such a realistic way. Getting pregnant was a shit decision and it has a major impact of Hannah’s life, but she also becomes a mother and has a beautiful baby growing inside of her and I love the moments the book just focusses on that fact and lets Hannah enjoy the beauty of it.
Non Pratt can WRITE.
And that’s what’s so great about Non Pratt’s writing - it combines the serious theme with small beautiful moments. It’s not all serious, or all fluff, but there are definitely moments of both in the book. She handled the theme in a wonderful non-preachy way and that’s a great talent.
Added to that, you just fly through the book! The writing is so captivating that you can’t stop reading the story at any point. I finished the book in one day and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
So no surprise, this is another 5 star book for me. Trouble didn’t impact me as much as Only Ever Yours did, but I still really loved reading this book. It has a great message and it’s honestly just a wonderful read. If you want something gritty, but with fluffy moments, then pick up Trouble and you will not be disappointed at all.