Review: “Trouble” by Non Pratt
February 24, 2016
In an era ruled by reality TV, shows like “16 and Pregnant” that dramatize teenage pregnancy and showcase the troubles of motherhood as an adolescent, are wildly popular. I, myself, have never watched such shows, but the premise has always fascinated me. I have to admit, the prospect of facing` motherhood before one is even able to vote has always been horrifying to me. But with my tentative New Year’s resolution to read books about different topics, including those that might make me uncomfortable, in mind, I picked up Non Pratt’s 2014 debut novel, “Trouble.”
With a deceptively cute cover, I originally thought the novel would be about a couple with fertility issues (hence the title.) However, as soon as I read the first chapter, which addresses narrator Hannah’s blatant disregard for both her parents’ authority and schoolwork, as well as her casual attitude toward sex (and an accompanying lack of interest in subsequent gossip generated by her partner’s “review” of their noteworthy encounter,) I had to look up reviews of the novel to actually find out what the book was about.
Slightly irritated and now questioning my decision to read the book, I soldiered on. One thing to note about the plot, possibly due to the author’s inexperience, is that to get to the actual pregnancy situation, the reader has to wade through a solid hundred pages.
However, once I finally reached the beginning of the interesting part, I quickly found myself enraptured by the plot. The two main characters, Hannah and Aaron, both have their respective issues, and while much of the drama deals with petty high school problems, the author creates a nice balance between the gravity of Hannah’s unexpected pregnancy, and the inevitable, cliché conflicts between the school’s resident slut-shaming popular girls and Hannah’s “true” friends.
One point to note is that after reading through about two-thirds of the novel, I began to feel a sense of exasperation at Hannah’s moronic tendencies of continually allowing herself to be mocked by the same schoolboys who were practically knocking down her door the second they sensed her availability.
Every part of me was screaming at her to simply walk away from the boys and their idiotic comments, or to fight back with insults of her own, but time and time again, Hannah displays a shocking readiness to just take what others say and bottle up her feelings. It’s worth noting, however, that I don’t usually scream at fictional characters (I prefer to reserve cutting comments for people who can respond back), so props to the author for managing to make me care so much about a character and her struggles.
While there are several minor issues with the validity of such tired elements, the characters are the true stars of the show; Pratt can be commended on her skillful use of character development through minor characters. While chapters dedicated to the time spent in the presence of Hannah’s little sister Lola, or Aaron’s nursing home-bound friend Neville, for example, are relatively few and far between, these small encounters eventually culminate into a true shift in the characters.
Whether you’re a fan of such programs as “Teen Mom,” or you simply have a fascination with adolescents and their stupid ideas, “Trouble” is a fascinating novel that presents a relatively interesting (and seemingly realistic) perspective on young motherhood.