Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Photo Property of Lerner Publishing

Title:In Trouble

Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group

Imprint:Carolrhoda Lab

Pub Date:09/01/2011

Author:Ellen Levine

Jamie and Elaine have been best friends forever, and now they’re finally juniors in high school. Elaine has a steady boyfriend, and Jamie could have one—if she'd just open her eyes and see Paul. But Jamie has a bigger problem to worry about. Then Elaine gets "in trouble"—something they thought only happened to "other" girls. Are there any good choices for a girl in trouble?

In Trouble is a novel born of author Ellen Levine’s interviews with women who came of age in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including those who knew what it was like to be a teen facing a horrible choice. In the decades before Roe v. Wade, a young woman "in trouble" had very few options—and all of them meant shame, isolation, and maybe much worse. Jamie and Elaine's stories are just two among the thousands of stories of teenagers facing unplanned pregnancies.

Description:  Confession: I read In Trouble in one sitting.  I couldn't put it down.  Ellen Levine had me captivated from the start.  The description was light, interesting and never distracting.  Actually, I barely noticed it and felt as if I knew everything intuitively.  And to me, that's great description.  It flowed but didn't flood. (Score: 9/10)  

Narrative:  I found Ellen Levine's style of narrative clean and simple.  A lot of the story comes from within Jamie-which lends very well to the intimacy of the book.  The tension and passion are both clear to me as a reader and inspiring as a writer.  There's a lot of emotion packed into  what felt like a very short novel. (Score: 9/10)

Dialogue:  Unfortunately, dialogue was not one one of my favorites for In Trouble.  A lot of it felt predictable and dry.  I liked how it helped the story unfold, but in some ways it felt relied upon a little too much for me.  Now the inner dialogue of Jamie, however, is different.  The book starts with it and carries it to the end.  For me, that was the grabber. (Score: 6/10)

Characterization:  As much as I loved the book, I felt characterization lacked a little too.  Though I could tell everyone apart, they all sort of felt, well...simple.  But it did fit the type of story, so overall it worked.  Honestly, I think I'd have liked to know Grandma a little more-she seemed feisty and smart.  In the end, the characters stayed true to themselves and the time setting.  (Score: 7/10)  

Resolution:  The ending of the book was perfect for my tastes.  A lot of things happened, leading to high emotions and an ending that satisfied.  But most of all, I LOVED the Author's Note at the end.  I'm a true-blue back story girl and Ellen Levine's thoughts are clearly heartfelt.  It's hard for writers to expose themselves, especially with hot topics like abortion.  But she took the time to explain to her readers where her inspiration came from.  And she makes some very valid points. One in particular: "Although the historical setting is different, the pressures on young women remain the same". AMEN to that I say. (Score 9/10)

My friend and fellow NetGalley user, Sera Rivers suggested I review In Trouble.  I thanked her a bunch of times.  As a woman, a mother of a daughter, a nurse and writer, this book moved me.  As I said above, I read it in one sitting-a matter of hours.  And yes, I cried.  I cheered.  I felt inspired.  It's the type of book that should be read in schools and discussed at length. (Though I have no doubt it'll be banned.) History need not repeat itself.  We should, as women, be supporting each other-even if we don't agree.  I really hope this book makes it onto at least a few required reading lists for young adults 13-14 years and older.  I know it's on mine forever. Though I didn't love everything about how the book was crafted, I still rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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