Happy Book Birthday to Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin! This is a quick-paced, easy-to-read, YA contemporary novel about a young girl who is abandoned by her boyfriend at Planned Parenthood while she has an abortion. While I did enjoy the novel and the emotional journey that Gen (our main character) goes through, I did not find the book as poignant as some of the novels that are in the same genre (Eleanor & Park, I’ll Give You the Sun).
Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin
Published by Flatiron Books on June 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
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In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen's decision to end an unwanted pregnancy
“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.
As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.
This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
What I liked:
1. I did enjoy the rawness and explicitness of the abortion aspect (before you get too worried, it’s not extremely explicit by any means. It just goes a tad bit beyond “had an abortion,” which I appreciated).
2. It was quite ambitious with the amount subjects that are covered (maybe too much so?). What I really admired was that none of these taboo subjects are really looked down upon by our narrator: drugs, religion, abortions, underage drinking. Really no one is painted out to be the one true bad guy (no matter how much I might have thought they should have been villainized!). Everyone in this book makes mistakes.
3. The formatting was fun. Each chapter set in current time is titled based on an “aftercare instruction” for an abortion, and each flashback is written as a script or screenplay.
4. I enjoyed the efficient writing. Pipkin didn’t belabor various aspects of the plot. It’s a very quick read, and if it had been much longer, it wouldn’t have been as engaging.
What I didn’t like:
1. There were a lot of things are packed into a very short amount of time. So much that it became quite unbelievable. I think the entire book spans about one week? View Spoiler »DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU THINK YOU’LL READ THE BOOK, IT SUMMARIZES THE ENTIRE THING: Genesis, our main character, has an abortion. Within a week she has been suspended from school, she has found a new potential boyfriend, she has auditioned and been chosen for the part for a play, and her mom tries to kill herself. « Hide Spoiler
2. While I liked that the book seemed to take on a lot of heavy subjects, it almost seemed like too many?
3. Gen’s family is downright awful. And while I get that they’re supposed to be, I didn’t feel like there was enough attention to that detail. It was painted out to be more of a fact-of-life (and maybe since it’s told in Genesis’ perspective that’s how it was supposed to come across?), but I found myself cringing over and over and over at how atrocious her family was.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys controversial subjects in their contemporary reads. Just don’t expect things to get too heavy or emotionally profound.
Aftercare Instructions is out today! If this book interests you, be sure to buy it.