In 1963, an unwed, pregnant 20-year-old attending college in Scotland faces a difficult decision: keep the baby, put it up for adoption or abort it.
What does she choose? Bizarrely, all three. In this long and wearying tale, Amelia, remarkably self-focused, relates her experiences and thoughts in diary format. In the first section, she barely rejects abortion and puts the child, Carolyne, up for adoption. She eventually summarizes, in a long letter to her daughter, written 21 years later, all the reasons for her not-fully-satisfactory decision, making clear that she has never stopped mourning the girl. In the second part, readers plod through the tale again as Amelia reluctantly chooses an abortion then descends into deep depression, 21 years later writing a sad letter to her (nonexistent) daughter, describing her rationalized justifications. In the final section, a largely contented Amelia keeps the baby. Her level of satisfaction belies the difficulties that choice, too, must have entailed, diminishing its credibility. The prose is at times attractive, and readers learn much about the protagonist—especially after reading through the story three times—making for a thoroughly developed main character.
The extended exploration of Amelia’s inner landscape doesn’t sustain interest, though, and the bias of the concept as presented is unlikely to provide much enlightenment to young women sharing Amelia’s plight. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)