A writer and life advice expert tells the story of how an unexpected teen pregnancy taught her unforgettable lessons in humility and courage.
At 17, Chicago native Pryor (What Did I Do Wrong?: When Women Don't Tell Each Other the Friendship Is Over, 2006) had everything going for her: loving parents, wealth, and, most importantly of all, a bright future. Then the high school senior discovered she was pregnant. Because her family was Catholic, abortion was not an option. Anxious to keep up appearances, Pryor’s mother, Dorothy, located a home for unwed mothers in Indiana where she left her daughter to give birth before returning to Chicago and attending graduation. Feeling trapped “in [her] body [and] her life,” Pryor immediately realized that the “home” her mother had chosen was really a government-run facility for poor and delinquent girls that looked and felt like a prison. Dorothy made special arrangements for her daughter to be able to come and go as she pleased, but this made no difference since the facility was “in the middle of nowhere.” The food was “gnarly bad,” and the “school” consisted of a single room with a few magazines and books and no teacher. Living mostly on vending machine snacks and food from care packages, Pryor felt alone and frightened among the street-wise girls she met. But soon she found that beneath the tough exteriors of her fellow mothers-to-be were fears and vulnerabilities—about pregnancy, giving birth, and life itself—that matched her own. As she drew closer to the girls, the author also came into awareness of how many more choices her socially privileged status had given her, including the one to give her baby up for adoption. Pryor’s refusal to bury the truth of her experiences is the greatest strength of her book. Her honesty about a youthful error and desire to let that honesty define the rest of her life are both uplifting and inspiring.
An unsentimental yet moving coming-of-age memoir.