Another long awaited read... Trouble by Non Pratt!
Hannah’s smart and funny ... she’s also fifteen and pregnant. Aaron is new at school and doesn't want to attract attention. So why does he offer to be the pretend dad to Hannah’s unborn baby? Growing up can be trouble but that’s how you find out what really matters.
I heard about 'Trouble' through BookTube (the bookish side of YouTube) and after reading a number of articles and writing tips by Non Pratt, I decided to give this a go. I knew - of course - what was going to happen. A teen pregnancy and everything in between, the cover told me right away. But 'Trouble,' while a little predictable, was mostly refreshing, way more than your average pregnancy story. Each component was well crafted and executed, and it was certainly an easy read. When you're up until almost 2am still reading on more than one occasion, you don't question whether it's a good book or not.
While the plot was a little overused (although some could argue everything has been done by one person or another) what Pratt definitely made up with were her characters. Hannah and Aaron. Aaron and Hannah, these two were well fleshed out and seemed like the person everyone has met at least once in their own school. They each enter the story with some sort of front. Hannah has this bravado that's initially hard to see through, whilst Aaron's playing the shy boy in order to forget his darker past. On the sidelines is also Hannah's best friend Katie, who I considered her 'partner in crime' when it came to guys and the meetings in the park that went hand in hand with Friday nights. Pratt's done especially well at having both Hannah and Aaron put up this facade, and knocking it down subtly as the book progresses. In reality they're both quite vulnerable and take comfort in each other's company. Aaron is a particularly complex character who I enjoyed learning about. It broke my heart when he finally started opening up to people because that was what he found so difficult. See, real people. You could meet them anywhere and that's why 'Trouble's' characters were a definite win for me.
Aside from the characters, one of Trouble's main highlights was that it wasn't all about the pregnancy. There is alot of sex and various people getting with each other - which obviously eventually leads to Hannah's pregnancy - but there are so many other threads that bring the story together and make it far more realistic than other pregnancy novels. We've got Aaron's past, Hannah and Katie's friendship, views on relationships, family matters on both sides. The pregnancy, in some senses, took a back seat. It was always there, as a catalyst for many of Hannah's problems, but Pratt was able to cleverly and smoothly transition between different threads. The plot all fitted together seamlessly. It really did feel like I was reading someone's diary; none of it was contrived or melodramatic, and I would say Trouble is an emotionally charged book - the atmosphere fluctuating with Hannah's hormones and Aaron's disturbing dreams. Mostly realistic and seamless.
The teenage culture of meeting in a park on Friday nights, parties etc, was a little new to me. [Note: I come from an all girls school so haven't had much interaction with the male species, nor am I popular so don't go to house parties sorry not sorry] but I was able to believe it and bought right into the atmosphere. It was a tiny bit cliche, but alot of stuff seems to happen at parties so I wasn't irritated by it. The dialogue surrounding these gatherings was natural, and at some points I felt as though I was right with the characters, huddled in a cold park or in someone's dimly lit living room. I guess this is partly down to the natural voices; I got two perspectives - Hannah full of confidence towards the beginning and Aaron just trying to fit in. The atmosphere was genuine, something I highly value.
Questions to who fathers Hannah's baby were the main thing that kept me going while reading 'Trouble.' While this worked well and the twist was unexpected, personally I think Pratt could have done so much more with the idea. The complex relationship Hannah has with the father had so much potential. It came as such a shock that I feared the plot could've taken a much darker turn, but this wasn't the case. Maybe this was my naturally disturbed brain, and this clearly wasn't the direction Pratt wanted to go in, but I think this could have shown a different side to teen pregnancy and made the plot slightly more original. You'll know what I'm on about if you do decide to read - which I'd definitely recommend - but that's all I can really say without throwing spoilers everywhere. Sorry.
In summary: While not groundbreaking, with a slightly overused plot, Trouble makes up for it with extremely realistic characters and genuine atmosphere. You won't want to put this one down - 4 stars.