Not My Daughter
January 5, 2010
Inspired by both the pregnancy 'pact' (though there apparently never actually was one) in Gloucester, Massachusetts and Sarah Palin's daughter being pregnant during the campaign, Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinksy is the story of teen pregnancy through both the girls' eyes and their mothers'.
In this story, the girls--the seemingly smart, college bound Maine high school best friends, Lily, Mary Kate and Jess all become pregnant as part of a pact. This, of course, throws their mothers Susan, Kate, and Sunny (also best friends) for a complete loop and they were sure they'd done all they could to raise good girls. Add in that they're in small, conservative New England and that Susan is the high school principal who herself got pregnant as a teen and drama abounds.
Told through the different points of view of the three mothers (and their fourth best friend Pam and some from the girls), Not My Daughter follows the developments of the girls early pregnancies, the families being told, the town finding out and the ramifications of not only teen pregnancies in a small town but the HS principal's daughter being one of them.
I read Not My Daughter because Elizabeth Scott rated it on Goodreads and it sounded like something to give a try (and I've seen Barbara Delinsky's name & books but never read any)--and the Lifetime movie The Pregnancy Pact was going to be on, too. And while this book was compelling and certainly kept me up reading it to find out just how things were going to turn out, it also disappointed.
I'm not sure if my feelings about it are because it's written more for someone that could have teenage children/daughters than someone who just was sixteen...Or if that has nothing to do with it. But, I feel like the story was almost sanitized to make parents feel better.
AND HERE BE SPOILERS
There was a lot of talk of whether or not it was the mothers' fault that their daughters got pregnant with the end decision seeming to be that they were good mothers and the girls just made this choice regardless (there was more to it, more why but still the 'you raised them well and then they did this'). I'm not sure I completely bought that, though. Not to say they were bad mothers, but to me, saying how they were raised had nothing to do with it was wrong. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but when you're 17, if you make a conscious decision to get pregnant, how you were raised had something to do with it. Enough with that point now ;)
I also didn't quite accept that all of the parents were so 'Okay, you'll keep that baby and we'll pay for it and that's that." I know one mother had more trouble accepting her daughters pregnancy than the others (still didn't seem like a whole lot) but there was still never any talk of anything other than the girls all keeping the babies. It was just 'no abortions or giving my baby away,' I don't think anyone even mentioned that there are open adoptions. And fiction's fiction for a reason, even if a tiny percent of teens put their baby up for adoption, maybe one of them in the story could have.
That paired with Lily's 'my baby's this big now and has intestines' every other page made if feel kind of like a conservative take on things (with the abortion's evil, I'll keep my baby stance). It might have just supposed to have been her being happy about being pregnant but it seemed overdone.
I think overall it just seemed too happy, easy. I know that Susan had trouble with her job and one of the girls had some trouble with her baby for a bit but overall it seemed like: the girls plan to get pregnant, they're ecstatic about it, they tell their families, that goes generally well, their families agree to provide for them and their babies, grandparents, moms and babies are all good and everyone's still a responsible parent.
I know it's not a deep book or anything, but I guess I expected more out of it than that.
I think my other problem with the story was that everyone seemed to reach their conclusions or have things happen at the same time. You'd read one girl telling her mother she was pregnant, then the second would and then the third would...bam, bam, bam. Then later in the story there'd be some sort of conflict and magically one character would reach some sort of revelation and then next chapter the second character would reach the same and then so would the third.
It would have made the story more enjoyable if even two of the three characters would have done something and there would have been either a time period or an event between that and the last character reaching the same point. Having different characters going through (even slightly) different things all reaching the same points at the same time became too predictable.
While this book wasn't all I thought a book on this topic could be, I don't think I'm sorry I read it. I am trying to get my mom to read it to see if she thinks differently about it than I do and I might read another of Barbara Delinksy's books sometime to see if it's this book I didn't quite like or it's her style that doesn't work for me.