WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW by Nicole Maggi


Age Range: 14 - 18
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A teenage girl struggles with the decision to end the pregnancy that resulted from her rape while desperately trying to keep the abortion a secret from her conservative Christian family.

Mellie Rivers is the kind of girl who would never have sex before marriage: She wears a chastity ring and follows the rules set for her family of eight by her conservative father. He’s the town’s mayor and is mounting a state Senate campaign based on Christian family values. Mellie’s world bottoms out after she is raped and becomes pregnant, unable to tell her family about the assault for a multitude of reasons, not least of which is her assailant’s relationship to her family and her internal dilemma regarding her limited choices. A classmate, Lise, notices her struggling and offers Mellie a lifeline and a support system as she navigates her options. Mellie’s pregnancy and decision to abort take center stage over the trauma of her rape, which is brushed aside for more immediate concerns. The girls’ perspectives are related via journal entries which they write for a class assignment, a heavy-handed device that does not lend itself to organic development for either character or for the religious families, who are generally painted with a wide, unsympathetic brush. The book assumes a white default.

A heavily message-driven novel that pits the anti-abortion camp against the abortion-rights camp in no uncertain terms. (author’s note, resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4926-7265-4
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2018


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