“No guilt. No moment of awakening. No tearful repentance. My eyes slid over the signs and my heart remained unaffected. I’d made my decision long before we arrived. Those signs were just words.”
Reading a book about a 17-year old on a road trip across state lines to get an abortion may not sound like the greatest story, but in Unpregnant, Jenni Hendricks and Ted Caplan take this topic and spin it into a fast-paced, funny-at-times novel that also deals with the topic at hand.
Veronica Clarke is the perfect high school student. She has straight As, is nominated for valedictorian, attends church on the weekend with her family, and has a popular boyfriend. She’s been accepted to an Ivy League college (and will be the first in her family to attend college!), and is excited for everything her future holds. That is, until she sees those two little lines on a pregnancy test in the bathroom at school.
She immediately knows that she doesn’t want to be pregnant. She’s been working so hard to make sure her future is different from what she’s seen in her hometown, and doesn’t want to become another young mother. Sure, she wants to have kids some day, but she knows that day is far in the future, not now.
However, she quickly finds out that to get an abortion in her home state, she needs permission from her parents, which isn’t going to happen. The alternative? Drive roughly 1,000 miles, across state lines, to the closest Planned Parenthood that will give an abortion without parental consent.
The journey there isn’t easy. Not only are there geographical barriers, but Veronica also learns some ugly truths about her boyfriend, and who her real friends actually are. It’s an emotional trip, but Veronica also finds herself in some pretty hilarious situations.
Unpregnant was a fantastic book. It has a lot of mixed reviews, which isn’t surprising considering the topic it focuses on, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It showcases how difficult it is for women to access abortion clinics, and the stigma and shame they face along the way. On the flip side though, it also shows a lot of comradery between women, and the support given to Veronica along the way was lovely to see.
I’ve heard the humor in this book compared to the films Juno and Superbad, and think those are both accurate comparisons. The book itself generally follows the same vein: high school students trying to navigate difficult decisions and roadblocks while trying to find themselves.
Unpregnant is also being turned into a film, and will be produced by HBO Max. Like the book, it’s being marketed as an “abortion road trip comedy,” which sounds like something fellow feminists will love.
Thank you to Harper Collins Canada and HCC Frenzy for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Unpregnant was released on September 10, 2019, and is available wherever books are sold.