I just finished rereading a really good young adult novel by Marilyn Renyolds. She writes very sensitively about teens in crisis, at a fictional high school called Hamilton High in CA.
In this book seventeen year old Autumn Grant starts out with a pretty good life. She has a small but very close family. Her mom died of an unknown illness when she was little. She lives with her Dad and Gramma. Her Gramma is blind yay! And has a guide dog named Casper. Throughout the book small comments are made about how she cooks and gardens and shops with her Braille visa card Yay accurate representation!
Anyway. She has a life long best friend and excels at volleyball.
There’s one not so small problem. She’s pregnant. Two or so months at the start of a book. After a one time thing with her best friend’s crush and other life long friend, turned I really want to go out with you please have sex with me on my birthday guy!
She is keeping quiet because she’s already made the decision to have an abortion. She has the appointment and everything. She waves goodbye to her family on their way to her next volleyball game like a normal Saturday.
After the game, which they win, her coach Niki has devastating news. Her family including Casper were killed instantly in a car accident.
Autumn is completely shocked and numb. Niki brings her to her house for the night after the Sherif wants to put her in foster care right away. Nike lives with her partner Penny and cat elvis. Autumn finds out in the morning that she had been staying in what would have been their baby’s room when the adoption failed. She’s sad for this but obviously has bigger issues to be occupied with.
When she goes to go through and sort out her family’s stuff, what was on them at the accident she dissociates. For a long time. She can remember being in the police station with who she was with and then she was at the lunch table with her friends and someone said Hey! Really loud and somehow that snapped her out of it.
Apparently she’d been functioning on auto piolot for about six weeks. She could talk and move and like go through the motions but she had no memory of the funeral, living at her friend Dani’s house, school ETC.
When she could think again she realized that she’d missed the appointment for the abortion. She made another one for two weeks away. She was still wishfully hoping that no one would know what was going on. The baby was kicking harder by this point and a couple times it kicked in front of people and she worried they noticed. She hated keeping secrets from her friend and friend’s family as they’d been so good to her. She knew particularly her friend’s mom who is super religious, would not understand.
Not surprisingly one day her mom found out seeing Autumn in the shower. She was shocked. First wanting her to go to a home for unwed Moms. Whenshe heard Autumn wasn’t “having the baby” she was even more shocked and upset. It was really hard to watch this poor girl having gone through so much trauma being sent to The County Home way out in down town wherever.
This was like a big group home. Like for people who had nowhere else to go basically. Kinda reminded me of a psych hospital as they strip searched you, you had to have a shower and a lice check, and all your things were locked up. You could have no personal belongings. Not even your own shoes, Autumn pointed out that hers fit and the ones they gave her didn’t!
She was checked over by the nurse and social worker. She opened up to the social worker Ms. Fenton and the whole story came out. She said the numbing loss of time was a natural reaction to that amount of trauma for some people. She went to the doctors with the nurse that day and found out that it was too late for an abortion.
She didn’t know what to do with this news at first and was just numb by the new experience of being in this not home. Though she was on the honor roll at her old high school, she had to have testing like from scratch. I would not want that stress on top of everything else! I couldn’t handle a math test with all that going on.
The daily routine was hard for her to adjust to. She was with girls who had been in and out of care and who had mental illness. Her roommate got aggressive often yelling at people throwing things, up all night with flashbacks that came out as aggression. Another girl that Autumn befriended had been in and out of care. Had been there like seven times. At six was her first time and it was the first time she had food and clean clothes and people who cared. It really made an impact on Autumn to see this.
She had group therapy, greif group, and individual meetings with the psychologist. She wasn’t too impressed with the psychologist who she said was like a psychologist in some book she was reading that asked questions instead of just saying what they meant.
She started going to a program for teen moms. This was hard too as she saw other girls excited about their babies. Well not excited I guess. But okish, wanting their babies. They’d made the decision to keep them whatever the difficult circumstances. I think one girl was kicked out and living with her BFS parents or something.
Autumn felt so isolated at the program in this regard. A few weeks of this and she finally came up with a plan. One of her father’s values is “being part of the solution not the problem.” One thing she could remember from before was how devastated Niki’s partner Penny was the day she came out of the old not baby’s room. She knew how to make this situation better. She’d give them her baby.
The ups and downs of that decision were intense. And I won’t give it all away. But I think it dealt with the issue well. Especially around gay/ les bian relationships/ adoption and that struggle. It also showed how a birthmom can have somewhat of a change of heart after birth, she had initially written no contact in the forms before having the baby. And changed some things once seeing her.
Autumn Niki and Penny became like a family. She was able to reconnect with her best friend. (the mom still believed she was all kinds of trouble against God or whatever I think Autumn was right when she said she didn’t think Jesus would kick anyone out.)
She was able to work with Guide dogs for awhile and then go off to college. She kept in touch with her baby and the family. This was an emotional and complex story that covered some really important and difficult topics.