Book Review: What’s the Trouble?

9781406347692

Hannah’s smart and funny … she’s also fifteen and pregnant. Aaron is new at school and doesn’t want to attract attention. So why does he offer to be the pretend dad to Hannah’s unborn baby?

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book if I am completely honest. I’d been looking forward to it ever since it was announced and I’d heard that Non Pratt is a pretty amazing YA writer. I’d just spent a few weeks gorging on The Hunger Games and – although I am a huge fan of the trilogy – I wanted something a bit more contemporary, something grounded in the here and now, and preferably something from the UK.

But as is the way when we look forward to something, there’s a danger that things might not live up to our expectations. The whole teenage pregnancy narrative is not new in Young Adult fiction, and can be done in an annoyingly stereotypical manner (I always think of that Mean Girls quote here: ‘Don’t have sex or you will get Chlamydia. And die.’ Lolz.) There are, however, lots of good novels out there about – and touching on – the subject, including the fantastic Red Ink by Julie Mayhew (which I loved, loved, loved), so I opened this book with pretty high standards.

I really needn’t have worried about being disappointed because Trouble is an absolutely fantastic debut novel.

What’s brilliant about Trouble is its lack of judgement. Teenage pregnancy is not right, its not wrong, it just is. Its something that happens. Its not overly controversial. Its hard and an obstacle in Hannah’s life, and that of her family, but its not depicted in a negative light. Nor is it glamourised. It is real.

Its written as a duel narrative between Hannah and Aaron. They share the story so we get to hear both sides, like a friend who is being told the story from each person in turn (or a particularly nosey friend rifling through someone’s diary!) and it provides a clear and well rounded picture of events.

The characters are fantastically believable and relatable. Hannah starts of as the stereotypical, brash teenager girl who, when she isn’t with boys, is thinking about boys. And sex with boys. Her attitude and behaviour are not shocking, rather its truthful, and I love that as the novel progresses, the ‘real’ Hannah comes to life on the page. She’s a firecracker but she’s more than she seems to be at first glance. Like everyone.

I wasn’t sure about the character of Aaron when I’d first heard about the premise of the novel. I couldn’t understand why a teenage boy would sacrifice himself and help Hannah in such a way. But the more Aaron’s story is revealed, the more it makes absolute, heart breaking sense why he would get involved with creating such a smoke screen.

The novel is about more than teen pregnancy which is where I think it really comes into its own. Its about second chances and meeting the people who help you get though challenging events in your life. I don’t want to go into too much detail regarding the plot and ruin it for all you bookworms, but this is where I think the true magic of the novel lies.

Growing up can be trouble, but that’s how you find out what really matters

– Trouble

Non is a master at creating brilliant characters, from the shallow, backstabbing Katy, to the gorgeous popular boy that can make any teenage girl do crazy things, and, my personal favourite, the wonderfully cantankerous old man that is Neville who is also not quite who he appears to be.

The plot is really great and well paced, revealing just enough at a time to keep me hooked. Non has a fantastic teenage voice that captures both the laugh-out-loud and horrific moments that come with navigating teenage years.

It’s also a wonderful example of UKYA fiction with its fantastically contemporary feel and use of language.

I was incredibly invested in Hannah and Aaron’s story and was a little sad when it was all over.

There is no trouble with Trouble, that’s the answer.

 

 

 

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