Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Pregnancy Project

Author: Gaby Rodriguez
Goodreads Rating: 3.67
My Rating: 3/5
Pages: 320

I can never seem to make a dent in my "to read" bookshelf because of one person, my mother. She goes to work, and then comes home with books that she tells me I should read, and what do I do as a good daughter? I read them (Take out the trash? Who does that....). She brought this one home a few days ago and my first thought was that it should go to my sisters classroom because she teaches high school, after reading this book, i was convinced this book should be in every high school classroom.

Synopses from Goodreads.com:

It started as a school project…but turned into so much more. 

Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. After all, her mother and her older sisters had gotten pregnant as teenagers; from an outsider’s perspective, it was practically a family tradition. Gaby had ambitions that didn’t include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she “lived down” to others' expectations? Would everyone ignore the years she put into being a good student and see her as just another pregnant teen statistic with no future? These questions sparked Gaby’s school project: faking her own pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever, and made international headlines in the process. 

In The Pregnancy Project, Gaby details how she was able to fake her own pregnancy—hiding the truth from even her siblings and boyfriend’s parents—and reveals all that she learned from the experience. But more than that, Gaby’s story is about fighting stereotypes, and how one girl found the strength to come out from the shadow of low expectations to forge a bright future for herself.

My review after the jump!

Growing up in an affluent suburb, we didn't have very many teen pregnancies, I think I heard about one girl that had a child while I was there. I'm not sure if thats because I just didn't hear the gossip, or if because it was "taken care of" more often. I know that teen pregnancies has been on the rise and that it is a problem not just for these teens but because of the burden that they place on the welfare system when they don't have a good support system.

The back story that Gaby provided was about her own family and her own siblings all of whom were born of a teen mother and they all went on to be teen parents. At the time of her book being written she totaled her nieces and nephews to over 30. 30! I can barely handle 2 at a time, but 30? She pointed out that this cycle was not uncommon in the area and among her friends, that teen pregnancy was almost commonplace and accepted. Her oldest sister was a teen mom and even if she was 19 when she had her baby that made her mother a 33 year old grandmother. Gaby was born the next year, also making her younger than her niece.  Using that math she was only 50 when this book was written with more than 30 grandchildren and no husband. I think that woman deserves a reward for not having run screaming (or for still having a full head of naturally colored hair).

When I read this book, its not like it opened my eyes to the problem, but rather what it was like to be a teenager and be pregnant. When Gaby was trying to convince her principal and vice superintendent that she could handle the mean comments and back talking that was said about her. In reality it was a lot harder to handle the gossip, and I give her props for not  quitting.

I think what probably would have been hardest was telling your family and having five hypocritical siblings turn their backs on you and ignore you at Christmas because you told them that you were pregnant. Disappointment I understand, but when your child of a sibling has watched your children time and time again, I don't think it was very fair to literally stop talking to her.

I also want to commend her boyfriend for staying with her through this entire ordeal. Even when he was being bullied by his friends and told what a screw up he was by his parents and anyone that he ran into, he stood by her side and went to the pregnancy classes where other teen moms met and were taught how to be a mom. I think he deserves a pat on the back, even if they aren't still together.

The message that Gaby wanted to be heard (and that people on message boards and across the country misunderstood) was that yes, it is important to prevent teen pregnancy, but once it happens, people only make the teen's situation worse by alienating them and making them feel like their actions were wrong. By putting down teen moms and dad's who are constantly reminded that they just ruined their lives and that it won't get better and that now you're stuck together, it activates the guys fight or flight response (which is more often flight than fight) and doesn't encourage them to make their situation better if they don't believe it can get better.

I think that this book is important for teens to read because even if you're not a teen parent and won't be one, it is important to understand the impact that your words have on a person. This isn't a lesson that just teens need to hear, but adults and teachers too. While a lot of the comments that the students made where harsh, I think the worst was a teacher, A TEACHER, saying "Doesn't she know that she just ruined her life?" Which is so not okay for a teacher to even say out loud at all let alone with students in earshot. 

I think that the fact that Gaby was able to withstand her family ignoring her, the rude comments made about her, and the feeling that she had disappointed so many people was incredibly strong and brave of her. I don't think I would have been able to deal with anything that she did including the reveal which must have hurt so many people including close friends, family, mentors and the people that had come to her aid rather than put her down.

This was an incredibly quick read and I think that Gaby Rodriguez gave a whole new meaning to walking a mile in another person's shoes. 

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