Nov 14, 2011

#TheList, No. 922: Dear Nobody

I had never ever heard of this novel before encountering it on "The List."  Upon investigation, it was published in the early 90s in the UK, which is probably a legitimate reason for the unfamiliarity.  Not everything gets to take off like Harry Potter playing Quidditch (yes, I am lame enough to make that simile), especially problem novels about teenage pregnancy! Huzzah!

Berlie Doherty gets major points for many things (spoilers ahead, I just can't avoid it): 

1.) The two teens, Helen and Chris, don't end up together.  It's open-ended about whether or not they may get back together somewhere down the line, but they don't live happily ever after and I like that about this book.  There's no illusion of a weak girl needing to be rescued, which is perfect because such an illusion doesn't need to exist to tell a compelling story.

2.) We're given the male point of view.  These types of books, or at least the one's I've read in the past, are always from the pregnant teen's perspective.  While we do get Helen's point of view through a series of letters addressed to "Nobody," the unborn baby, that she presents to Chris so he'll understand what she went through those nine glorious months, the story mostly plays out from his perspective.  Sure it's a little gushy here and there with his talk of love for Helen and how much he wants to just hold her hand, but at least it's a solid effort to give a male a voice in this type of novel.  

3.) Abortion is discussed straightforwardly.  Sometimes in these books, especially in books published earlier than 1991, if abortion is mentioned at all it's subtly hinted at via a "bad" girl who once "got rid of her problem" or something that makes it sound like anyone who chooses to have an abortion is directly related to Satan.  No matter what your views on abortion are, it's a legal option and it's fair for teenage readers to see this very real experience discussed in a novel that deals with pregnancy.  If you're pro-choice, there's a character who discusses having once had one - and she's not a "bad" girl either.  If you're pro-life, Helen decides not to go through with it, but does consider the consequences.  I'm a fan of how all of this is portrayed.

4.) Now, this has nothing to do with Doherty's input, but just look how deliciously 90s that cover is! 

It doesn't appear to be that widely known, but I would recommend it for sure if someone wanted a book about teenage pregnancy that wasn't Annie's Baby, one of those "real" diaries of troubled teens that are actually written by Beatrice Sparks.  Dear Nobody is a good book and it doesn't preach to teens.  All in all, I'm surprised I hadn't heard of this book before because it seems like something that should raise alarms all over the place, especially Texas.  I don't know why, but Texas is always my scapegoat state for blaming censorship of books.  Probably because of instances like banning authors from library festivals.  But anyway, my apologies to Texas.  

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