An unmarried pregnant woman wrestles with whether to keep her baby in this debut novel.
Ashley Wade, 24, works as a receptionist at an auto repair shop for a meager hourly salary. Her 11-year-old Ford Escort is grimly unreliable, and she uses the small amount of extra money she has to take night classes at a local community college, so that she might one day become a nurse. She’s perennially tempted to follow in the footsteps of her close friend Kate, who pulls in extraordinary cash as a stripper, but she feels that it would entail a loss of dignity. Then one day, Ashley discovers that she’s pregnant; her boyfriend, Jack, vacillates between angrily denying paternity and accusing her of purposely trapping him into fatherhood. She breaks up with him and tries to decide what to do next. She can’t even afford to have the child, let alone raise it, and she’s terrified of repeating the mistakes of her mother, a disaffected, unreliable drunk. Against her better judgment, she eventually considers becoming an exotic dancer, as well as a prostitute. She considers getting an abortion, but is affronted by the questions that the doctor asks her at the clinic. Debut author V. swings from the main plot to “premonitions” of possible futures in which Ashley has a beautiful daughter named Elizabeth and creates a loving and stable home, or in which she becomes an embittered replica of her own mother. Interspersed throughout are unflinchingly honest essays about the debate over abortion, the costs of raising a child, and the troubles that attach to adoption, among other subjects. Along the way, the author clearly and sympathetically represents warring perspectives. The book, as a whole, functions as a kind of clarion call to mutual understanding: “unless both sides are somehow able to see their own overwhelming sense of righteous compassion reflected in the eyes of their opponents, the debate about abortion will be a war without end.”
A moving dramatization of the complex choices that confront pregnant women.