Published: February 26th, 2013
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who's been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn's secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex - until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant - and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?"~Goodreads
I've got something really special for all of you today. I'm so happy to be a part of the official blog tour for Caela Carter's new teen contemporary Me, Him, Them and It. This awesome debut deals with teen pregnancy in an honest, responsible and incredibly poignant way and I'm pleased to have an interview with Caela, herself, about her new book.
1. There is such a genuine voice to this book. It is very easy to believe that we are inside the head of a scared, lost teenage mother. What was your research and preparation like for this kind of story and this character in particular?
I’m so glad you enjoyed the voice! But I’m a bit worried I won’t be able to answer this question too well. I did a lot of research about pregnancy. With all of the blogs I was following and “what to expect” books I was ordering, I’m pretty sure my computer thought I was pregnant! But I’m not sure I actually researched the character of Evelyn. I’ve spent most of my adult life (and obviously my teenaged life) around teenagers and I find them endlessly fascinating and wonderful, even when they’re angry, sullen and lost, like my MC. And, in the past, when I was teaching and working with real-live teens, I’ve done a lot of reading and studying of developmental psychology to understand how they tick. I think all of that went into my creation of Evelyn, like, subconsciously. But, I honestly don’t remember where she came from. Once she was in my brain, she was just there.
2. What made you choose to write about teen pregnancy?
Jeez, again, I just don’t know. I think one of the things that fascinates me most about teenagers is that they are so close to adulthood and so close to childhood they they are able to dance back and forth between the two worlds. The way I remember my own teenaged years, sometimes my maturity level felt like a choice and it was kind of incredible that I could choose to engage in the most intelligent conversations at the dinner table, or to silently excuse myself and read my Seventeen magazine. Other time, that fluctuating maturity level was so limiting and frustrating when my parents or my body or my friends were insisting that I act either older or younger than I was feeling at the moment. I have spent time with pregnant teenagers and with teenaged mothers and with women who were pregnant as teenagers, and I think it is this aspect that fascinated me. The pregnancy completely changes everything about the teen’s own fluctuating maturity. So, when I reflect back, I think maybe that’s why it came to me. But, and I hope this is something that your readers can understand, when Evelyn got pregnant, I didn’t actually think too much about it. It kind of just happened. At that point, I was drafting the novel in the tiny, claustrophobic Manhattan bedroom I had just moved into, and it was only me and Evelyn who were involved. I made choices for the book, like that the MC would be pregnant, without ever thinking anyone else would ever read about them and wonder. So, it does probably say something about my psyche or interests or something that what I ended up writing was about pregnancy. But I have no idea what it says because at the time, it didn’t really feel like a choice. It just kinda happened.
3. Without going into any detail, I'll just say that the ending was not what I was expecting. Did you know from the beginning how the book would end, or did you have several options that you played with?
I did. The ending was about the only thing I knew (which is maybe not that surprising considering this is the only question I’ve answered without saying “I don’t know” A lot of the things Evelyn does and says and reacts to surprised me in the drafting, but I always knew the ending. What’s funny is that when my writerly friends first started reading my draft, I was worried the ending would be predictable!
4. In a world of Sixteen and Pregnant how do you think the way teen mothers are looked at has changed over the last several years, or has it?
Hm. Sorry to say this again, but to be honest, I really don’t know. I do hear a lot that pregnancy is a “current issue” or something of that sort, and I don’t really think that’s true. It’s more of an eternal issue. For as long as there have been teenagers, there have been pregnant teenagers. And for as long as there have been pregnant teenagers, there have been confused, pregnant teenagers. I think Sixteen and Pregnant and other such docu-series have put a face on the issue and turned it from abstract to real for many people, and I think that’s a good thing. I appreciate that those girls are willing to put their real stories out into the world and I think that’s very brave. (I’m terrified at putting an entirely fictional story out there!) I give them a lot of credit. But I’m not sure that the show and the fact that the general population is now more aware of teen pregnancy actually changes the reality of it that has been around for generations.
5. What do you think are the most important issues facing teens today?
Oy vey! I don’t know that either. I don’t know that there even is a universal answer to that. For the teens I worked with in Chicago, the biggest issue was probably gangs and street violence, but there are obviously many teens (like Evelyn) who never even have to think about those things. So, I’m not sure there is one all-encompassing answer to this question. But, I do think it’s kinda cool when we can stop to consider the question of issues that don’t directly effect us. So I like to think that we as a community are all responsible for the issues that effect others. So, in that case, every issue is a big one for teenagers and for people of all ages. I’m totally failing at the question. I probably should have just stopped at “I don’t know.” But, that’s what I think.
6. What has the response been from young women who have gone through the struggle of teen motherhood?
I honestly only know of one person who was a teen mom and who has read the book, and I’m proud to say that she liked it! But I suppose I’ll have to wait for that general reaction. However, I’ll take the opportunity to send a little love out into the universe to all pregnant teens and all women who were pregnant teens, whether they enjoy the book or not. It was not an easy thing to write about, but I’m aware that it’s at least a million more times difficult to live and deal with and I think those who are facing the choices Evelyn did need as much love and support as we can give them. So: hugs!
7. What do you most want readers to take away from Me, Him, Them and It?
Boy, Catie, you’re really putting me through the ringer! This is another tough one! Again, I guess I’d like to emphasize that I wrote it in the solitude of my own head and my own bedroom. When I was writing, it was utterly private. (Even though the actual content has nothing to do with my life, ha!). So I wasn’t actually writing it for anything. I’m thrilled beyond believe that it’s getting published, but I’m also very aware that whatever a reader gets from the book belongs entirely to the reader.
8. What do you want to write about next?
This was so much fun! Thanks for having me, Catie!
Thank you again for being with us today Caela and congratulations on your debut! And, by the way, I think your answers were great!
And now onto the review portion of our program, er...blog. To put it in simple terms, I loved this book. I'm always iffy about issues books because they can tend to be angsty and seem to either err on the side of irresponsibility or sound like they've been written by some know-it-all adult who doesn't really remember what it's like to be sixteen. Me, Him, Them and It doesn't have any of these problems. Evelyn's life isn't perfect to begin with. Her parents' marriage is a a sham, the guy she's in love with doesn't want anyone to know about them and she's acting out to get attention. We begin our story after she finds out she is pregnant and follow her throughout the pregnancy. Evelyn is an enormously real character and the reader feels all of her ups and downs. I found myself wanting her to be okay so badly that I had to remind myself she was fictional. She is a lost little girl with a very grown up problem and very grown up decisions to make. The story-telling was very realistic and the way that Evelyn reacted to each situation was entirely believable. More than that, the story was not preachy or biased in any way. This is not a political book, it is merely the story of a girl living with the consequences of some life-altering decisions.
The most amazing thing about this book for me was the emotion. I didn't feel like it was sappy in the least, but I found myself sobbing on more than one occasion. I knew going into it that this would probably be an emotional read but I was not prepared for how connected I felt to the characters and how much the story affected me. By the middle of the book I was flying through the pages. I needed to know how this all ended! And that's the crazy part, the ending took me completely by surprise. In fact, there were many parts of the story that came out of left field, in a good way. I love a book that I am surprised by. If you're looking for a quick read with lots of heart and amazing characters, you must pick this one up. You won't be disappointed!