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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Book Review: Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller

Camille is pregnant. It's not a rape or a long-term serious boyfriend. It's a mistake. And she's only 16 and this would really destroy her life in a lot of ways. And she wants to get an abortion.

Her best friend, Bea, who is religious, is the opposite of supportive. She cuts Camille off without even hearing her out, leaving her alone. She has no boyfriend to go through this with her, she can't tell her parents (they don't have a bad relationship but a tempestuous one, and this wouldn't improve things), and now her best friend has abandoned her. Luckily, she runs into Annabelle while buying a pregnancy test. Annabelle is older but Camille knows her through Drama. And Annabelle lets Camille know that she will do whatever it takes to help her. Annabelle has her own reason of course, but they embark on an unforgettable roadtrip. Oh, and with Bea along, as she begs Annabelle to let her come, says that while she doesn't agree with Camille, she does want to be supportive. Camille isn't inclined to trust Bea again, but she lets her come. The three set off across Texas on a series of quests, running into every possible legal speed bump along the way.

This book was very much written as a way to demonstrate the consequences of the draconian abortion-restriction laws that have been passed across the country in the last decade or so, and often books with such an agenda really sideline novel basics such as plot and character. And while the plot is straightforwardly in service of this goal, it's well done, and the characters are really well drawn. I loved this book. Lots of teenagers (and older women) have to go through this gauntlet of restrictions, and poor Camille gets thwarted at every turn. She even hires a lawyer at one point to try to get permission for a legal abortion in Texas without parental notification. She does everything right. And yet, as a privileged white girl heading to college in a couple of years, the obstacles are nearly insurmountable. One quickly realizes how daunting these same obstacles would be someone with fewer resources.

This is a very important book. I love that the character of Bea helps round out the story and address her concerns and be a questioner of Camille's decisions. As much as I would have done the same thing as Camille in her shoes, my high school girl friends were all very religious, and I would have met with much the same resistance. This book can help any teen going through this decision, who might be in the future, or who might have a friend in trouble. And it's also a great road trip, girl-power story. I loved it.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Henry Holt, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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