Saturday, September 14, 2013

"Not My Daughter" by Barbara Delinsky ~ A Review

I first picked up this book because the premise sounded interesting.  Lily Tate, a 17 year old senior, announces to her mom, Susan Tate, that she is pregnant.  Her single mom, the principal of the high school school she attends, is shocked and upset but being a mom who herself was pregnant out of wedlock when she was young, she tries to react as best as she can.  The maddening thing is Lily is not one bit sorry or afraid or confused.  In fact, it comes out that Lily has gotten pregnant on purpose.  To make matters worse, it is revealed that 2 of Lily's best friends are also pregnant.  And on purpose.  It seems the girls thought it would be an awesome thing to all be pregnant together and all raise their kids together and have them be the third generation of friends.  As the news of the "pregnancy pact", hits the very conservative town, Susan finds her job is threatened and the fall out extends way beyond what any of the girls considered in their plan.

This book sounded so interesting.  The author wrote it after the 2008 media coverage of a  high school in Massachusetts where the pregnancy rates rose dramatically.  The principle used the word "pact" when talking to the media and the story went crazy.  It was later determined there was no pact and the principle was fired.  The author explores the what if's of a group of girls who actually would make such a pact and why they would do it.  

While the story seemed like such an interesting premise, it just didn't deliver for me.  It took me a long time to write this review, because I just had to sort through so many things in my head.  In fact, it made me mad on so many levels I can't even list them all here or the post would go on forever.  The most offending for me was not that the fact that the girls were pregnant, or made a pact, though on a personal moral standpoint that crosses over many lines for me,  but I knew that was what the story was about when I went into it.  No, the thing that made me crazy throughout the book was that the girls were presented as very intelligent, top of their class, college bound girls.  And yet not one of their arguments, reasonings or actions even approached or got close to intelligent on any level.   They were selfish children who wanted what they wanted and did what they wanted to get what they wanted without owning up to any of the fallout around them or how it was affecting anybody else's lives.   Everybody was just supposed to happily accept it.  Their behavior was that of entitled, self absorbed brats rather than the intelligent girls they were supposed to be.  The main character mother made me crazy too.  Because she was the principal and because she had fought to bring in a health clinic that passed out cond*ms at the school her job was up for much scrutiny amidst the school board members and the parents of the conservative town.  Yet when her daughter was so casual and naive and uncaring about it, she let it pass.   Everytime.   Some of the conversations between the two just didn't quite ring true, for me.  Then the small detail of her "situation" with Lily's father set me off .  Not being married to Lily's father, she still kept in touch with him and he occasionally came and visited.  He stayed at their house and she continued a physical relationship with the man when he was around.  Now that I am not naive about and I understand it happens.  But when Lily let it be known that she knew that was happening, Susan, the intelligent, wise woman was shocked & embarrassed that her daughter knew.  Seriously?  Does a high school principal not know that teenagers stay up until the wee hours of the morning even if they are in their rooms?  Does she think that high school kids would never figure it out?  She actually thought her daughter would never know?  Seriously?  Not ringing true, once again.  The ending was just too pretty and not true to most baby bearing teenage girl's situations, I would think .  There were other details too but like I said before too numerous to go on.  

With all that being said, there were some good points to the story that bear mentioning.  The young man who was "used" to father Lily's child, though he felt betrayed insisted on wanting to be a part of the pregnancy and the child's life.  Lily did not want him being involved at all.  This baby was hers and her alone, she insisted in all her great intelligence.  In spite of all that, the young man wanted involvement.  When most young men would have been only too happy to be let off the hook and not to have anything to do with the situation,  he showed some real character.    The other aspect of the story that was good was that it definitely spoke of the fact that babies are real from their very conception and not just blobs of flesh as some would have everyone believe.  Lily's fascination with the development of the child and habit of detailing it for her mother at every stage gave witness to how amazing the growth of a baby really is in the womb.  The miracle of a  developing child was celebrated.  For that I commend the author.

So perhaps making me mad, or at least, raising some kind of strong emotion in me was what the author had in mind.  Maybe it was so that the book could be a vehicle for discussion.  All in all though, it just wasn't a great read for me but I will give the author one more try.  I've got another of her books in my reading basket.  Hopefully that one will hit me better. 


Willow said...

I think I'd better not read this book because like you I'd probably spend a lot of time being angry about what I'm reading. I might throw the book and break something in my house. And that would make me even madder.

But I do applaud the idea that the babies were considered real from the beginning of their conception.

Barbara H. said...

I think I'd have many of the same reactions you did. Unfortunately the world, or at least part of it, seems to designate selfish women as strong and independent. I've been stunned to run into that kind of thinking lately.

It is good, though, that they treated the babies as real babies and that the one guy showed some character.