Saturday, December 5, 2009
In Which Trai Reviews 'The Pregnancy Test'
The Book: The Pregnancy Test
The Author: Susan Gable
How I Found It: Kay Hooper had an essay on her website a while back by Susan Gable and the title of the book sounded interesting.
The Review: All right, all right, so I tend to be of the "don't knock it 'til you've tried it" variety and I'm 18 and by this age, a girl should probably read at least one trashy romance. I assumed most Harlequins were trashy.
That being said, while this book wasn't nearly as trashy as I thought one of these things would be, I do have a lot of criticism, mainly with characterization and length. I also haven't read the prequel to this, The Mommy Plan, although I probably will in the near future.
The plot: Sloan Thompson has just moved to Pennsylvania with his two daughters, Brook, fifteen, and Ashley, who's probably around eight-ish. The move is mostly for Brook's benefit, as she'd been hanging out with a bad crowd back home and Sloan wants to set her straight.
He is a single dad whose wife died when the girls were young, and his next-door neighbor is Jenna Quinn, a single, free-spirited woman who refuses to date men with children. She feels that she doesn't have enough responsibility in her to be a parent, so kids are a deal-breaker.
However, Jenna starts to bond with Brook when she offers her a job at her jewelry store, and Sloan starts getting closer to Jenna as well. Before they know it, they're in a "dessert first" (friends with benefits) relationship, while Brook dates a senior at the high school.
Things become complicated when both Brook and Jenna become pregnant, leading to a spate of tough decisions for the two of them and Sloan. For Sloan, it's facing being a father again and a grandfather at the same time. For Brook, it's wondering if she, at fifteen, can give her baby the life she wants her to have. And for Jenna, it's wondering if she even wants to have kids at all.
My criticisms will be a bit spoiler-y, so if you don't want the book spoiled, I'd probably steer clear, but honestly, you can probably guess what'll happen anyway.
First off: the length. I know that romance manuscripts are barely longer than the current state of my NaNo novel (with about a third to go, the word count stands at 52,878, and romance novels are usually around 55,000, according to Wikipedia). I know that a certain amount of that time has to go to building the characters and such. But when a book is called The Pregnancy Test, I'd expect the pregnancy part to come in sooner than halfway through the book?
Secondly, it felt kind of uneven-- for a man dealing with his girlfriend's pregnancy and his daughter's, Brook's was pretty brushed over, as was her relationship with her boyfriend before and after. I know the main story was Sloan and Jenna's, but it really would have been nice to see more details of how her pregnancy affected her emotionally as a teenager.
Third, characterization. Um. Sloan just started to bug me at some points; his "do the right thing" motto just led to so many inconsistencies. Brook asks him if he would make her have an abortion or marry the father, and he says no. However, when it comes to Jenna, he all but wants to force her to carry the pregnancy to term, and wants to marry her. It just bugged me so much that he literally was trying to cajole and coerce her into keeping the baby. I mean, her body, her choice, Mister?
Also, I know people had problems with Brook's decision in the end as to giving her baby up for adoption. I actually didn't-- maybe it's because I'm a teenager, too, but I didn't think it was selfish of her. I felt she did the right thing by her baby.
There was also remarkably little about the pregnancies in the actual book. Beyond Jenna's issues with hyperemesis gravidarum, the symptoms, appointments, etc. are really skimmed in order to cram everything into the page limit, I thought. Huge chunks of time are skipped over in order to get to the deliveries. I also would have liked to see more of the adoption process that Brook went through.
It was a good way to pass the time, but the book could have benefited greatly from being longer, and for a slight reworking of Sloan's character, I felt. It was weaker than I expected it to be, but the author's other books look pretty interesting, and I might give some of them a shot.
Recommended to romance fans or people who enjoy family dramas.