Quinn is 16, a virgin—or so she thinks—and pregnant. Miracle or repressed trauma?
She’s not sure. When a routine OB-GYN appointment reveals her pregnancy at the start of her junior year, white Brookynlite Quinn Cutler can’t reconcile her condition with reality. She and her boyfriend have never gone that far. Ultrasound narrows the time of conception to a two-week window in which she has hazy memories of a midnight swim at Holmes Cove, a dangerous stretch of water near her family’s long-unused vacation home in Maine. Quinn’s grandmother committed suicide at Holmes Cove when her father was a child, and Quinn herself nearly drowned there at age 7. Since then her family’s past has been cloaked in lies and deceptions; Quinn knows she was naked at Holmes Cove, but all the memories she does have are filled with joy. Her father’s running for Congress, so the family is already in the news, and the idea that Quinn’s carrying another Messiah sends pious and possibly unhinged people to camp out on the family’s doorstep. Baer’s third-person narration alternates among Quinn and several other characters. Quinn’s voice is real and believable, and the characters are multifaceted and sympathetic, but an element of magical realism shows up rather late in the long novel, as does important information about Quinn’s grandmother and Holmes Cove, and some readers won’t last that long.
Uneven pacing hobbles an intriguing plot. (Fiction. 14-18)