And The Reading Continues

“Research has found that the forgotten natural mothers of adopted children are suffering serious psychological problems up to forty years after being parted from their children”. – Danielle Robinson

 

Today I finished the second in a series of teen lit books I am reading related to the topic of unplanned pregnancy, parenting, adoption and abortion.

The latest selection is Annie’s Baby, The Diary of Anonymous, A Pregnant Teenager by Beatrice Sparks, Ph.D. From what I can gather, Sparks is the therapist who counseled “Annie” after she had her baby.  Keep that in mind.

AT first the book annoyed me. It is written as a diary, Annie’s diary. She is fourteen and well, writes like a fourteen year old. It was hard for me, as a 42 year old, to follow it at first. I got a few pages into it, had to put it down and only came back to it today. I read it completely today.

Hmph. Once again, I struggle with a review and commentary. Like the last book, this is likely due to being able to relate a bit too much to some (not all) of the book.  Annie is an honor student, child of divorce, living with her mother. She is a “good girl”, much like I was. She becomes involved in an abusive relationship with the rich, popular boy in school who not only physically abuses her but rapes her more than once. She is so enamoured with him she stays in this relationship until she eventually becomes pregnant. She goes against all her family values and violates her Methodist Youth Group’s vow of chastity and stays in the relationship.

The book is allegedly based on a true story. It was published in 1995 and frankly, I find some of the words in the diary to be a bit off base (for 1995 and probably for at least the 20 years prior to 1995). Like many of the reader reviews on Amazon some parts of the story seem incredibly out of whack. Perhaps that was done to protect the real “Annie”.

Annie eventually tells her mother she is pregnant and her mother is amazingly, if not unbelievably, supporting. Annie goes through her pregnancy, transfers to a school for “unwed” mothers, and eventually gives birth to her daughter Mary Ann.  The book details the challenges associated with being a young mother, even one with plenty of support from her own mother. After some period of time and a number of disturbing situations Annie finds Dr. B (the editor of the book) and is helped through the healing process.  She discussed her rape, her pregnancy, her boyfriends physical abuse of her. Annie returns home to her mother (after spending a weekend with Dr. B and presumably being cured or helped or served some koolaid or something) and within very short order puts Mary Ann up for adoption to loving couple that has all that Annie and her mother do not, blah, blah blah, barf.

At this point, literally the last 10 pages of the book the standard adoption mythology takes over. I am saddened to see that with all her support from her mother, her father, the teachers at school, other unwed Moms, Annie still believes her daughter deserves better than she can provide. She feels she has no value (but then again that lack of self-esteem probably kept her in that abusive relationship).  I was however happy to see about three sentences dedicated to the grief Annie would feel for the rest of her life.  Page 227 contains the following statement (this hit me pretty danged hard)

“Mom and I talked to another couple for hours, and I’m soooo confused. I want L’il Annie to have all the love and security and normalcy that Steve and Jo-Jo can give her, but still I’m sure I’ll just wither away and die, and I’ll forever feel guilty and like I have committed two major sins instead of one…”

Wow. That hit me right were it hurts.  It caused me to put the book down and stare out my family room window for a signficant amount of time pondering which sin was bigger?  Having sex out of wedlock with my daughter’s father or surrendering her to strangers? I suppose the answer to that would depend on whom you were asking. 

Page 229 says

“I’ve been weeping from loneliness, guilt and pain for three months…at least..but I know in my heart..at least sometimes I think I know in my heart, that it was right to allow L’il Annie the opportunity to grow up in a normal adult home…”

I wonder how Annie and L’il Annie are doing today? 

 I have more to say here but I am feeling choked up and ready to cry. 

Next up on the reading list: Conception: A Novel.

4 Thoughts.

  1. Beatrice Sparks is very weird Suz. She also wrote “Go Ask Alice” and pretended it was the diary of anonymous teen.

    She is big on scaring people into adhering to her moral principles and the notion that youth are doomed.

    She is also big on pretending to be an anonymous teen, which per se, is creepy.

    • Joy21 – Thanks for that. I am going to have to agree. I knew nothing of the editor/author prior to reading this but left the book with pretty much what you describe above. Icky.

  2. I dunno – sounds like it adheres pretty strongly to the
    only-disturbed-young-girls-get-pregnant theory of yore.

    I’d give it an eighth or maybe a sixteenth of a “W”. Highest rating being five W’s (for WMW) for books that get it.

  3. Joy’s last line is cracking me up! I agree that the “true” anonymous diaries are super creepy and poorly written in implausible ways. I’d like to think that means actual teens will ignore them, but I don’t know whether or not that’s true.

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