Publisher: Walker Books.
Paperback, 384 pages.
Release date: March 6th 2014.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Reviewed by: Arianne.
In this dazzling debut novel, a pregnant teen learns the meaning of friendship—from the boy who pretends to be her baby’s father.
When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant via her ex-best friend, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness (besides the rest of the world): Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.”
Told in alternating perspectives between Hannah and Aaron, Trouble is the story of two teenagers helping each other to move forward in the wake of tragedy and devastating choices. As you read about their year of loss, regret, and hope, you’ll remember your first, real best friend—and how they were like a first love.
I’d like to start by saying this: in future, if anyone ever needs a definition of classic UKYA, I’ll be handing them a copy of Trouble by Non Pratt. It’s sharp, funny, blunt and devastatingly engaging. It reels you in and doesn’t let go.
Non Pratt is a hugely talented new voice in British teen fiction. Trouble has a relatively straightforward concept, but it’s also a brave book that doesn’t hold back – and I think that’s right, partly because of the subject, but mostly because main character Hannah is so ridiculously gobby! Naturally, the dialogue is spot-on throughout, too.
Hannah and Aaron’s relationship makes for a fantastic centrepiece against a backdrop of very serious and poignant issues. Hannah is assured in who she is and she owns her choices no matter what, but spending time with Aaron also brought other sides of her character (and vice versa), which I loved. The book reads at a fast pace and it’s a very strange time for them to get to know one another – which really serves to make the book’s humour stand out. This is a book that says “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and I adored that.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the rest of the plot as captivating as I’d expected it to be. The ending is quite abrupt and there are certain aspects of Hannah’s life that really need attention from some kind of outside source – someone aside from parents, teachers and regular gatekeepers who can show her that those who betrayed her trust should and will be held responsible for their actions. I don’t know if that’s a narrative decision the author would change if she could, but with consent and accountability being such an important and topical issue, I just wish the book had given a stronger message that the way certain characters act around Hannah is wrong, not just on a person-to-person basis, but also on a pretty serious legal level, too.
In short: I read all kinds of books, from middle grade to YA to adult, and I can’t think of a single book that compares to Trouble. It’s bold and brazen and states its purpose from the very first page. It’s not perfect, and I’d probably advocate an age restriction just this once because of some of the content, but it is well-written and totally memorable, so it’s definitely worth a read.