Monthly Archives: August 2014

Trouble

Non Pratt

Walker

9781406347692

March 2014

paperback

Finished

What the author does really well in this novel about teenage pregnancy is make the reader care for a very ordinary and (at the start of the book at least) not particularly likeable 15-year-old girl and the predicament she finds herself in. Certainly I had no difficulty in believing in Hannah as a character – in some ways she was all too real. My sympathies for her increased as the book progressed, as well they should.

The leading male role – this is an alternating dual voice narrative – was more difficult to work out and harder to believe in. In a book that could have benefitted from being 25% shorter, reader engagement might have kicked in more quickly had the revelations about Aaron’s past (which explain his previous behaviour) come sooner rather than later.

I am not the biggest fan of dual voice narratives. One voice always tends to be stronger than the other and Pratt, like many authors who use this technique, at times falls into the trap of slipping out of her characters’ vocal registers in order to ‘narrate’ in a more authorial tone.

Having said all that, the last third of this impressively assured debut is entirely riveting. A particularly admirable aspect of the novel is the way in which supporting characters (family members, fellow students) come fully alive via the alternating narrative.

It is also a sobering study of the way in which teenage life, especially in the social network age, is dominated by rumour, gossip and false claim. The fact that Hannah is self-aware enough to know that she is as much a player in these games as the next person makes the book refreshingly (actually a better word might be rancidly) realistic.