Not My Daughter

Friday, February 19, 2010

As she so masterfully does, Barbara Delinsky has written another captivating novel involving modern day societal issues. In Not My Daughter, high school principal Susan Tate has successfully overcome her somewhat rough past to excel in her career and prove all naysayers wrong. This all comes crashing down for her, however, when she finds out her 17-year-old daughter, Lily, is pregnant. Not only is she pregnant, but she's excited about the pregnancy and refuses to name the father. Susan quickly realizes the backlash from the community and parents of her students as they judge her for "allowing" her daughter to get pregnant.

Then, to make matters worse, Lily reveals that two of her best friends are also pregnant; they decided together to get pregnant at the same time because they love children and wanted to have children the same age. The novel explores the relationship between mother and daughter as Susan grapples with cricism from the community and trying to deal with the effects of a pregnant teenaged daughter. It explores the process that brought Lily and her friends to make the decision they did and how they deal with what was naively, for them, unexpected negativity.

I have to be fair and admit it's been about 6 weeks since I read this book (yes, I've been lazy about reviews lately... working on that) so I don't quite remember all the specifics about what I thought while I was reading. So what follows are probably the parts that hit me the most.

My initial reaction was skepticism toward the characters. I didn't feel as though they were realistic; Lily is supposed to be a smart, honor roll student who stays out of trouble. This wasn't fitting, for me, to the character she played who chose to purposely get pregnant without thinking through the consequences. I would have found it more realistic had she accidentally gotten pregnant. (But then the whole storyline with the pact would not exist, sooo..) I also felt Susan's reaction was unrealistic. Sure, she wasn't so happy, but she seemed almost too accepting of it. Or if not accepting, then not quite as affected as you might imagine one would be when their "perfect" daughter does something so outrageous.

But then as I kept reading I thought to myself, "why did I ever doubt Ms. Delinsky?" As with all books I've read by her, I was quickly swept up into the story, the controversy, the societal issues, etc. The other characters also helped balance out my original disbelief of Lily and Susan; the mothers of the other girls in the pact had two different reactions than Susan did and it helped cement in my mind that just as with people in general, these mothers dealt with the situation differently. And the slight "twist" involving what led to these girls making their pact and becoming pregnant in the first place was shocking and led to another set of ramifications which was interesting (and fun in some sense) to see play out. (You HAVE to read the book to get what I'm referring to there!)

The societal issues and controversy I referred to also made me think and that's one of my favorite parts about Barbara Delinsky's books. What are my opinions when it comes down to it? Do I feel for the mother who can't really control what her 17-year-old daughter does (or can she?) or do I agree with some community members that as high school principal, both Susan and her daughter should have set better examples and been better role models? Additional elements are added to the storyline that make the reader think and make the characters question what they believed. All of this contributed to a very well done glimpse into the lives of women and their daughters when their beliefs and love for each other are put to the test. If you've enoyed Delinsky's other books or are a fan of contemporary women's fiction, you will enjoy this book too!


Juju at Tales of said...

Sounds powerful. Thank you for the review.

Alayne said...

This actually happened in Massachusetts. A bunch of girls in high school got pregnant at the same time last year, some by the same guy! Crazy.

I have an award for you at The Crowded Leaf.

Miel Abeille said...

This was a very thorough and impressive review! Not My Daughter sounds like a great story, like Alayne said, the real life story became a Lifetime made-for-tv movie, I think it was "The Pregnancy Pact" or something along those lines.

Jenny said...

Juju -- thanks!

Alayne -- Yeah, Barbara Delinksy said she based it on that story. I didn't know some were by the same guy though! Definitely crazy!! And thank you so much for the award!!!

Miel Abeille -- Thanks! I haven't seen the lifetime movie but I know the author was talking about it on her facebook. It was just coincidental that her book and the movie came out around the same time!

Stephanie aka The Stark Raving Bibliophile said...

I have never read anything by this author, and this novel sounds really interesting. I used to work with teens, and it is amazing how many girls intentionally get pregnant. When I was that age, it had never occurred to me that the world wouldn't come to a crashing, traumatic end if I got pregnant.

Jenn-ay said...

I remember hearing about girls getting pregnant around the same time in high school (of course I heard it on the news), but this story sounds pretty good. I'm intrigued...I'll have to pick it up one day.

Melissa said...

I've only read one book by Delinsky, but enjoyed it. This one sounds good!

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