Unlike my usual reviews, I’m not going to paste the first few paragraphs of the review. I’m going to post the first and the last. Also: spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! (But if you’re surprised after reading the summary, you should look up the word gulible in the dictionary, ’cause your picture is there.)
I received this book to review after the author read a review of Ellen Levine’s book In Trouble on my blog. Like Levine’s novel, Buckley’s novel deals with a young girl who finds herself “in trouble” — that is, very young and very much pregnant. To make matters worse, the girl (15-year-old Kara) finds out she’s pregnant after she is raped on a date with her basketball star boyfriend who she’s been sneaking out of the house to see because her Catholic parents are very strict, especially her father. She happens to be pretty drunk the night he raped her, and when she finds out she’s pregnant, her boyfriend does what all the bad boy impregnators do in books: he asks if she’s sure it’s his, he tells her to get an abortion, and then he starts dating someone else right away.
And here’s where we come to my biggest problem with Choices. It’s short and that’s because it doesn’t actually present the choices that relate to an unplanned, unwanted teenage pregnancy. I don’t usually blab my political beliefs all over the interwebz, and please don’t debate me because I’m not trying to start a political debate, but I am both a Christian and pro-choice (if you call me a bad Christian I will sic Jesus on you), much like Kara’s family ends up being both Catholic and supportive of Kara’s abortion. I hate when people say that pro-choice means pro-death or pro-abortion. It’s not any of those. It literally means a woman has the right to choose. But this novel seriously, seriously fails to give Kara a choice. She is pretty determined from the get-go to have an abortion, and in less than 100 pages, it’s made easy for her. The hardest part is that she lives in a parental consent state (and I do not, so that’s a strange concept for me) and so she has to tell her parents so they can take her to have the procedure done.
I don’t think every teenage girl who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant should get an abortion. There’s no right or easy decision when it comes to teen pregnancy. But I do believe that all teenage girls in that situation should have all of the right information to make a fair, thoughtful, informed decision because no matter what the outcome is, the choice will change the course of her life. Buckley’s website describes Choices this way: “The many sides of the reproductive rights issue come together in Choices, a story voiced with respect, sensitivity, heart and emotion.” Really, there is only one side of reproductive rights that is seen, and that’s of abortion. Honestly, I usually get a little butt-hurt when I hear “the right” accusing “the left” of pushing an agenda, but now I’m a little butt-hurt because I feel like my beloved liberal thinkers have gone to a major “feminist” extreme, one that doesn’t really explain what it means to be pro-choice. In this case, this is a pro-abortion novel. (I am so, so sorry for the “”. You probably hate me now.) This book is just poorly titled. I think I would have much less beef with it if it had a title that more accurately reflected its contents.