Title: Belly Up
Author: Eva Darrows
Description: There’s a first time for everything.
First time playing quarters.
First time spinning the bottle.
First totally hot consensual truck hookup with a superhot boy whose digits I forgot to get.
First time getting pregnant.
Surprised you with that one, didn’t I?
Surprised me, too. I’d planned to spend senior year with my bestie-slash-wifey, Devi Abrams, graduating at the top of my class and getting into an Ivy League college. Instead, Mom and I are moving in with my battle-ax of a grandmother and I’m about to start a new school and a whole new life.
Know what’s more fun than being the new girl for your senior year? Being the pregnant new girl. It isn’t awesome. There is one upside, though—a boy named Leaf Leon. He’s cute, an amazing cook and he’s flirting me up, hard-core. Too bad I’m knocked up with a stranger’s baby. I should probably mention that to him at some point.
It seems I’ve got a lot more firsts to go.
Belly Up is a contemporary YA novel that delves into the topic of teen pregnancy with a comedic twist. It is a novel by Eva Darrows, the pseudonym for bestselling writer Hillary Monahan. The book is one of many multi-genres that she writes with everything from horror to, in this case, comedy.
The beginning is written plain enough but with a humor in it that is genuinely witty. The way the book addresses the reader directly isn't something many are accustomed to at first. With that in mind, it quickly becomes clear that it was the perfect way for the story to be told.
Sara, or Serendipity, the main character, is a character that you love to love. She has a distinctive voice to go along with her opinions and thoughts - these driving the story forward. She is such a funny narrator. Every word she speaks draws a smile from the reader. It makes for laughter and a tone that is relatable for anyone.
The reader can really feel themselves in the place of the main character. This is true even if the circumstances are unconventional. They still manage to resonate with the individual. You can see the character's struggles as she comes to terms with an accident resulting from her choices. The way the narrator can go from relatively self-assured and witty to vulnerable in seconds is a nod to the great writing style.
The narrator has a grace about her that allows her to walk from the sad to the humorous without it feeling forced or rushed. Sara has a strong sense of herself and what she believes. With a unique perspective and humor about life, she is such a nice change from the angst driven MC's of other novels. It's such a refreshing thing to see Sara look back on her past decisions with an acceptance of the "mistakes" made and still find herself through them.
Sara is written so as to feel like a real teenager. And teens can be notoriously hard to write for anyone but these ones were done well. It didn't read like someone out of touch with young people trying to force them onto the page. I enjoyed the way the teen pregnancy was approached with the appropriate amount of concerns but also a sense of real life wit. The cruelty and shaming faced but the main character is something that makes the reader feel for her, which I would argue is the point of storytelling.
The generational relationships ground the story. They are dynamic and craft something that would truly lessen the narrative if they were taken away. It breathes life into the book so that you can see how these strong women are finding themselves and relating to each other. Eva Darrows demonstrates the growing connection between Sara and her "kid" in a way that is the heart of the story.
Devi, the best friend of Sara, as a character could have been flat and one-dimensional but is instead one who is a valuable addition to the narrative. Devi and Sara are such a great duo with their shared language and comradery. Their relationship is such a joy to see evolve and grow.
The story itself is lighthearted and fun while still not becoming too silly or dumbed down. It is different than what is expected of a typical teen pregnancy story. Characters are endearing and lively. The conflicts propel it forward to keep readers entertained and engaged.
The diversity of the book and its characters is so encouraging and allows anyone to find someone they can see themselves in. Everything from Romani to asexual representation is present. It is a fact that for some may be the first time they've seen them in literature. Commentary on issues that impact minority groups and diverse individuals truly add a level of social reflection.
I went into the story with minimal expectations but was proven wrong by the book and author in the best way. Being glued to the page is commonplace when reading it as most are unable to separate themselves from the words on the page. The story is a delicate mixture of funny and heartwarming in its simple but strong telling. A perfect ending was delivered as wholesome and cathartic. Most of all it was full of a promise of the future for Sara and all those around her.
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