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.
Today has been #UKYAday, a day organised by the wonderfully committed Lucy Powrie @LucytheReader over at Queen of Contemporary.
UKYA day is about promoting Young Adult literature by writers who were born in or now live in the UK. Lucy also runs @ProjectUKYA, hosts #ukyachat on twitter and has many many other fantastic ideas for continuing to promote UK Young Adult literature.
My blog post comes a little late in the day because I’ve spent the day reading a book cover to cover – what a perfect way to spend Easter Saturday. The UKYA book I chose to read, thanks to @YAyeahyeah and @kimmiebells was Trouble by Non Pratt. I adored it – glowing review to follow.
The topic of my post today though is – Take your pick.
One of the issues often with the label Young Adult is that it isn’t all that helpful as a genre category apart from seeming to indicate to some people that those books are for teens and if you are a few years past the voting age then they aren’t for you. Of course that attitude is changing, I hope, and it certainly isn’t one that I subscribe to with YA providing the majority of my reading material over the past couple of years. One of the benefits though of YA all being lumped in together is that it has certainly introduced me to more genres than I might have read otherwise. UKYA is so varied, from contemporary to dystopian, fantasy to horror and many others in between.
As a ‘very much older than teen’ YA reader I have enjoyed reading books that reflect my experiences of school. We don’t have prom or cliques in the same way as the US so there are some experiences in US YA books that I have found it tricky to relate to. However, Dawn O’Porter’s Paper Aeroplanes, published last year is set in the mid 1990s and was a book that I could directly relate to. I’m looking forward to her follow up Goose.
The quintessential teen angst books were the Adrian Mole series, the first of which was published in 1982 when I was four. Last week sadly their author Sue Townsend passed away – Below is a picture of my collection and I’ve just discovered there are even more that I can read in Sue’s memory.
I’ve already raved about Holly Smale the author of the Geek Girl series which I’m so excited has been extended, so instead of the initial three books we’ve been promised we are to get five or even six tales of Harriet Manners Geek turned model. Here are links to my reviews of the first two books of the series. Geek Girl and Model Misfit.
Horror/Thriller wise I’d recommend James Dawson – I read three of his books back to back last summer – Hollow Pike, Cruel Summer and a very welcome non-fiction book Being a Boy. I am anxiously awaiting the publication of his next book Say Her Name which is based on the Bloody Mary Urban Legend that had me petrified as a schoolgirl. I will need to save that one for a sunny day.
Other reads I’ve read and can recommend:
Fearsome Dreamer by Lauré Eve
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
Gemini Rising by Eleanor Wood (reviewed here)
Reads I’m looking forward to from my TBR pile:
Acid by Emma Pass
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Lexiland by Suzi Moore
The Savages by Matt Whyman
Slated series by Terri Terry
Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
I have booked my ticket for YALC – the Young Adult Literature Convention this July. Just check out the list of authors that will be there – http://www.childrenslaureate.org.uk/yalc/. Even more UKYA to find (although I’m aware we have some international authors coming too).
As an aspiring UKYA author I have to say that Lucy’s work to bring all of this together today has been inspiring and certainly helps with the hope that there is a market for a range of UKYA genres – now I just need to finish my books.
One thing I must complain about though is that following all these UKYA bloggers and authors on twitter has really expanded my TBR piles! Avoid the hashtag on twitter if you are already in danger of being crushed by your pile? But just in case you think you can balance a few more check out #ukyaday #ukya or #ukyachat. And if you have any recommendations for me then please post them below.