Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan
Published by HarperTeen on September 10th, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
“The clinic, the doctors, the nurses were all exactly the same, but nevertheless the colors seemed brighter, the people warmer, the shadows softer. There was no flicker of nerves dancing in my stomach, no shallow, tight breaths. And I knew why. She was sitting beside me, so close our shoulders almost touched, waiting with me for my number to be called.”
*ARC received via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.
I unexpectedly got approved for this ARC and had no idea what I was getting into. But I loved the cover and was intrigued by the title.
Veronica Clarke is about to graduate high school and head to Brown. But she passes a test she wished she failed — the pregnancy test. She’s staring down at two solid pink lines and also finds out her boyfriend secretly poked holes in the condom to keep her from going out-of-state for college.
Veronica needs an abortion, but she closest place seh can legally get one is over nine hundred miles away — and Veronica doesn’t have a car. Too ashamed to ask her friends or family for help, she turns to the one person who she believes won’t judge her: Bailey Butler, her ex-best friend.
While they’re on the road, they deal with crazy ex- boyfriends, stolen cars, shotguns, strippers, and a whole lot more. But their broken friendship can’t be fixed and Bailey abandons Veronica. Now Veronica has to risk everything in order to repair the hurt she’s caused.
I think this is such a fun book that is perfect for a young adult audience. It’s a buddy comedy with a road trip involved. And honestly, those make for the best kinds of books and movies. It manages to tackle extremely serious topics, such as teenage pregnancy, abortion, religion, and remain humorous and delightful. It was an easily digestible way to start a conversation around these controversial subjects.
Based on the summary and the title, you know that this book is about abortion. And Unpregnant doesn’t shy away from it. Hendriks and Caplan wrote beautiful commentary on women’s rights and how far women have to go to claim what’s rightfully ours. There are also some great lines about moral judgment, misogyny, and control over women’s bodies.
The main characters were both well-written and fleshed out. Bailey gave me some serious Janis Ian vibes and Veronica reminded me of Veronica from Heathers. You get to see these two young women work out their differences and come together for this cause. And I always love seeing female friendships blossom. These two women are unapologetically themselves and slowly lose their veneer of their “perfect” image. Even though those two things look very different for Veronica and Bailey.
I also want to point out that it’s very cool that Caplan is an author on this. I know, I know. Not all men. But truly, it’s really refreshing to see a man help write female characters who have substance to them. Even the most well-meaning male authors can sometimes churn out the weirdest phrases to describe women. It’s absolutely baffling what they think women do or think or say.
I thought it was a very cute touch the way the chapters are named after how many miles they’ve gone. And the short chapters consisting of a few pieces of dialogue remind me of those montage scenes you get in road trip movies.
Speaking of which, I think this needs to be made into a movie ASAP. I want it to be a Netflix original, I want Olivia Wilde directing this, and I want Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein to star. The book lends itself well to becoming a movie with the way its written.
I think you’ll enjoy this if you love reading about female friendships, if you love humour attached to some heavy topics, and if you love a good road trip adventure. And if you liked the movie Obvious Child starring Jenny Slate, I think you’ll have fun reading this.