Teen pregnancy is a source of shame in this disappointing second outing from Martinez (Virtuosity, 2011).
Amelia and Charly are very close, but as different as siblings can be: Amelia focuses on academics and athletics, and is almost prissy in her moral uprightness, while Charly flirts with the boundaries of acceptable behavior for preachers’ kids with her devil-may-care antics and free-spirited adventures. When Charly discovers that she’s pregnant after what appears to be a one-night stand, the girls’ grandmother chooses a very mid-20th-century approach to squashing the inevitable conservative small-town gossip, sending the girls to live with their late mother’s sister, Bree, in Calgary, until Charly gives birth and selects adoptive parents for her baby. Grandma’s jaw-droppingly retro decision, motivated by a wish to protect the girls’ father from the truth, means that both girls have to go to maintain the fiction of going to acquaint themselves with their Canadian relatives. Amelia, furious at being so out of control of her life, lashes out repeatedly at Charly. Amelia doesn’t exercise much self-awareness until she sees how gracefully Ezra—the cute library worker with whom she enjoys crackling chemistry—handles his own family burdens, and Charly finally confides the terrible secret she’s been hiding. This old-fashioned–feeling problem novel lets readers down in its focus on shame rather than the hugely life-altering results of teen pregnancy.Deeply troubling and unsatisfying. (Fiction. 12-16)