Conventional wisdom says that when a teenager has a baby, her life is ruined.
But this isn’t always true. In fact, it can be the opposite. For pragmatic and wryly observant Agnes, getting pregnant during her first year of college was both unplanned and inevitable. Like many young adults, she and boyfriend Tea Rose had frequent unprotected sex and were seemingly oblivious to the risk of pregnancy. Or maybe her unconscious was at play. After all, when Agnes began her studies, she was still grieving the recent suicide of her older brother, Simon. On top of this, her mother had disappeared, abruptly leaving husband and child for an unknown destination. To say that Agnes is forlorn and in need of human connection is an understatement, but she is intellectually savvy and able to compartmentalize, so she throws herself into academia with relish and success. She also becomes thoroughly entwined with Tea Rose—at least until he dumps her for someone else. By that point Agnes knows she's pregnant and opts to keep the child. This is not because she is anti-abortion but because she can't face abandoning the fetus as she has been abandoned by her mom and brother. And although her dad tries, he is essentially clueless, perhaps because he too is befuddled by mourning and monumental loss. Instead, there’s Joan, a quirky but devoted friend, who plays an essential role in the face of Agnes’ near-constant emotional and physical crises. As the story unfolds, letters Agnes writes to her absent mother—they are, of course, never mailed—are juxtaposed with an otherwise straightforward first-person narrative to form a diarylike peek into the young woman’s meandering mind. Taken together, they form a tableau that is heartbreaking, hilarious, and poignant—often at the same time.
A powerfully perceptive story written with love, realism, and humor and that feels fresh despite the familiar terrain.