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The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir, by Gaby Rodriguez, & Jenna Glatzer

March 29, 2013

Bibliographic Information (APA): Rodriguez, Gaby & Jenna Glatzer. (2012). The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir. Simon and Schuster: New York, USA. 

Category: Nonfiction, Recreational

Descriptive Summary: 17 year-old Gaby Rodriguez comes from a family where teen pregnancies are practically a family tradition; everyone of her four sisters (and her mother) all got pregnant in their teens, so no one expects Gaby will be any different. This is what gives her the idea to conduct a social experiment by faking a pregnancy. Gaby studies what happens when a young and impressionable person is almost ‘forced’ into a stereotype because that is what everyone expects them to become; does that create a self-fulfilling prophecy, dooming young people to alcoholism, drugs, and teen pregnancies? What happens to teens once they are in trouble and no one helps them? People around them are frequently outspoken in their vindication, and reinforce the hopelessness a young person feels.

Gaby asks herself would happen if people went the other way, and encouraged her to rise above her circumstances? Would she still just be a sad social statistic? What started out as a small school project became so much more. What Gaby learned along the way not only opened her eyes about society, but also showed her how she could be different and soar above her circumstances to new heights.

Book Talking Hooks: This book clearly relates to a lot of real-life experience, not just for Gaby’s family, but for many others. Rodriguez cites the examples of numerous studies that show how girls that grow up around family members that have teen pregnancies and are also without strong parental figures repeat the cycle (2012, p. 22, 27, & 55). This is something for a young reader to examine and perhaps think about in the context of his or her own life.

Gaby Struggles with a great many personal difficulties in her family and this relates how much courage she had to have had to keep trying to be better than yesterday and to create new circumstances for herself. As a child, she took care of her sick grandmother, or her nieces and nephews from her sisters’ various teen pregnancies (Rodriguez, 2012, p. 42, 55, & 58). Above all other things, this is a story about courage in the face of great adversity (Rodriguez, 2012, p. 80, 85, 93, 103, & 105 and more) . Gaby faced the scandal, the slander, and the social stigma to prove a point: You don’t have to be what people say you are.

Evaluative Comments: 4/5. The first few chapters are crucial in setting a very realistic scene of a typical broken and poverty-stricken home and for the rest of the story as Gaby tries to break from that scene and a bleak future (Rodriguez, 2012, p. 1-48). These chapters are written in a tone that does not encourage pity; rather the tone merely recounts Gaby’s background as an accepting statement-of-fact and that lack of judgment makes Gaby’s triumph later in the novel all the more powerful. Her project was not about looking down on those in her situation, but rather understanding it as it was.  Television programs like Teen Mom and The Secret Life of the American Teenager sometimes glorify teen pregnancies and the situation surrounding it, but this book does an honest and realistic, yet compassionate study of the event as it often actually is, not shying away from the hardships, stereotypes, social prejudices, and social stigma.

This book is a good teen read, not only because so many teens have the life Gaby does in her story, but because the tale offers those readers hope, and a way out. Things can be different for someone if they refuse to become the stereotypes people tell them they will be. Gaby’s story is inspirational and deserves to be heard.

Readers’ Advisory Notes: This book puts a human-face to an Issue-oriented story that allows the reader to sympathize and it is emotionally intense. It is certainly a story that is thought-provoking and encourages reflection. Young adults who liked this book, or are interested in issues surrounding teen pregnancy might also like to read Dubious Conceptions: The Politics of Teen Pregnancy, by Kristin Luker, or Bittersweet Blessing: 16 & Pregnant, by Ashley Salazar.

Reason for Inclusion: I included this book because the issue of teen pregnancies is on the rise in North America today, and it is important to ask ourselves why. I think it is an important point of discussion with young adults that will help them makes intelligent decisions because at least they will have been afforded the opportunity to think about it. Teens that are already in that situation know that they are not alone, that many others struggle with the same pressures, problems and realities that they do. Gaby’s positive attitude and compassionate study of how to make the outcome of a teen pregnancy different is creative, but more than that, it is hopeful and proactive. Those are powerful motivators that encourage real change and change.

Lifetime Productions also made this book into a movie and it emphasizes the interest and importance of the issue in a social setting today. The book and the movie accompany each other nicely and I would recommend them together.

Suggested Audience: I would suggest this book be included as part of the reading syllabus or a project in a high school English class, or in a personal development type class (CAPP – career and personal planning). I would include this book in that learning setting because this will allow students to be in a setting where they have access to other resources and professional guidance that may be important to helping them if they have questions or concerns. Teens aged 14 and up would find The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir an interesting read.

References

Lifetime. (2013). “The Pregnancy Project.” Retrieved from http://www.mylifetime.com/movies/the-pregnancy-project

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