Review Posted October 11, 2008.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007. 316 pages.
Sharon Draper is the author of the amazing and moving book, Copper Sun, a story of escaping slavery.
November Blues begins as 16-year-old November Nelson discovers she is pregnant. She knows when the baby started, since it was the night before her boyfriend died.
In some ways, this seems like just another story of teen pregnancy. It's good, and it's absorbing -- the writing pulled me in so that I checked it out rather than shelving it at the library, and then kept me reading until early morning -- but in some places the dialog and situations felt stilted and stereotypical.
A teen pregnancy novel is a hard one to write. Because the situation itself involves thousands of teens, but a novel must focus on one particular teen. What happens to that one teen will feel symbolic of what happens to the other teens in that situation, and that's a bigger burden than a young adult novel can necessarily carry.
Taken as a story, this is a fun high school tale, with some sobering things to think about. The no-good backstabbing popular girl gets her comeuppance, and November learns who her true friends are.
November has to choose between keeping her baby and giving the baby up to her dead boyfriend's rich parents. I found myself wanting to shake them and say, "Isn't there an alternative? Can't you let November keep the baby, but provide her support and be a huge part of your grandchild's life? Does it have to be all or nothing?" Again, this was one particular story, but the situation felt so prototypical, I found myself wanting the author to present all possibilities, more than I would have cared in a novel about, say, choosing between a career in art or science.
An enjoyable story about a typical teen in a difficult situation.