Trouble by Non Pratt – Book Review
On Saturday as part of UKYADay I read Trouble by Non Pratt.
I expected it to be a UK version of Juno and what I got was a nuanced and clever read. This was told from the alternating viewpoints of Hannah – her trouble being her teen pregnancy, and Aaron – his trouble being his dark past which has bought him to a new school in the middle of his GCSE year. They are drawn to each other, and not in the way you’d expect, when Aaron agrees to be her fake baby daddy.
I’m so dense I’ve only just realised that the split into First, Second and Third relate to trimesters of pregnancy. Doh! Each entry is also dated, not in a diary way but just for locating the action in time.
I love how Non keeps us guessing, both about who the real father is and about what Aaron actually did.
Aaron in particular is such a vividly drawn and complex character, he’s clearly trying to have a fresh start but he is eaten up with guilt. His parents actually go along with his plan to be the fake father which indicates how damaged they believe him to be. He loves books, he truly cares for Hannah and he volunteers at a residential home, striking up a friendship with a older man called Neville who delights in beating him at cards. But, he thinks so badly of himself you really do want to reach into the book and give him a hug.
I loved seeing Hannah’s growth when it is her turn to care for Aaron. She experiences the range of emotions and reactions that come along with teen pregnancy, probably the most shocking is from her mum who actually works in family planning. The book takes us all the way through the pregnancy to the labour and it doesn’t shy away from details. It’s certainly got me fearful of ante-natal classes and the actual delivery – yes please I’ll take all the pain relief please. I loved that it shows Hannah still attending school and working hard to complete her GCSEs.
As well as the two leads there are a host of supporting characters that are so well rounded. In fact I think we get an insight into each of the named characters and all through the views of the two main characters. This is no mean feat.
In the blogging community recently there has been a lot of discussion about the handling of LBGT characters in YA fiction and Non does address this in Trouble, but it is dealt with in such a subtle way. It would be great if Aaron’s reaction to being called gay could be adopted more widely – as a bit of a non issue.
The characters we quickly grow to like in this book are flawed, and there are occasions where you want to tell them to take a different viewpoint on certain issues, but this is what makes this book great, it represents real people and real issues but it still remains an easy read, it’s almost as if life goes on even when Trouble strikes.
This is a 5 star read for me – and yes I did need tissues one or two times.