Trouble, as you can probably tell from the excellently designed cover, is about pregnancy. Teenage pregnancy. I’ve only ever read one book that deals with this topic before, ‘Someone Like You’ by Sarah Dessen, and I think I was a little too young to appreciate it. So, I was really excited to read about this new and interesting topic and how it would be dealt with, especially since on the blurb it says the pregnant girl, Hannah, is only 15. Note: In the UK it is illegal to have sex before the age of 16. If sex occurs with a minor, this is statutory rape and a criminal offense. PRISON WORTHY. Non Pratt, therefore, was writing about a difficult situation. How did it play off? Well…
Hannah: At first, it seemed Hannah’s only interest was boys, and getting off with them. She dressed for the purpose of being attractive and had a reputation around school for being, I guess, easy? I’m not fond of the term ‘slut’ or other such things because I don’t think it exists. The aim was to make it seem like she had lots of sexual partners that could be the father of her baby.
Hannah, although stupid for breaking the law, was extremely mature about her situation. She needed help and she got it. I really felt her emotions very strongly, and thought her perspective was eye opening to how pretty, sexually active girls act and feel. The whole pregnancy plot points was believable and perfectly adapted to how a 15 year old single girl would respond. She was strong, likeable and easy to sympathise with.
Aaron: The other perspective was a little more mysterious. Why did Aaron move school? Why did he want to pretend to be the father? I really liked the way things were revealed about Aaron, and how generally nice he was, despite his tragic backstory. Everyone has dark days, and I think Aaron’s way of dealing with them, although very isolated, was easy to relate too. He was an excellent fake father, sticking up for Hannah, always there for her. Even though there was a slight miscommunication between them, you knew they genuinely cared about each other. I also appreciated how they never became a couple, too. That was interesting and helped to solidify just how strong their friendship was. He was witty, supportive and intriguing.
School is horrible. Senior School was literally the worst time ever, so all the bitchiness and cattiness that was happening among Hannah and Aaron’s friendship groups was extremely accurate. People are backstabby, and all they seem to care about is climbing the popularity ladder. I loved the way mean things affected the main characters, and how they dealt with them in such a sensible way. Hannah’s best friend abandoned her to become the next Miss It Girl, spilling Hannah’s secrets left right and centre. It was easy to hate her, but a lot of subconscious messages about bullying and the pure uselessness of doing so were riddled throughout ‘Trouble’ and I hope readers picked up on that.
As for the ‘Who’s The Real Father?’ plot….well, let me just say I saw it coming. There was a little niggling in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to believe. Hannah would have, cleverly disguised by the author, conversations with the father before his identity was revealed. I have to say, I was kind of disgusted by who it was. When, in the universe, would Hannah’s relations with the real father ever be OK? When she told her parents who the father was, I loved how they had the same mental freak out I did. At least someone was thinking clearly!
Also, the father was obviously older than Hannah, so I was surprised and shocked when the statutory rape issue wasn’t raised. As I said, it’s a criminal offence!! CRIMINAL. Surely, to be realistic, there should have been some consequences once identities were revealed? I felt that was really missing from the book, and detracted from the realism created by Hannah’s thoughtful perspective.
Overall, I’d give ‘Trouble’ 3.5 stars. I loved the two main characters, even if I didn’t share any experiences with them personally, and at a surface level, found Hannah disagreeable. The portrayal of teenagers was completely different to anything, I experienced myself, but that’s probably because the character’s belonged to different social groups to my teenage self so I can’t fault it for that.
The minor characters were really interesting, especially the parents of Aaron and Hannah. Robert had to be one of my favourite parents ever written. Understanding, quiet and caring, I was pleased Hannah’s home environment wasn’t void of friendly faces.
I’d definitely recommend it, because it’s different, but there were a few logistical problems mentioned in my review that I couldn’t look past and detracted from my star rating. A commendable UKYA that makes me very excited to read Non Pratt’s next book.