An unintended pregnancy, depending on one’s circumstance, is either a blessing or a curse. It also forces both the pregnant person (and their spouse/partner, if there is one) to make a decision that could border on difficult.
The House of Eve, by Sadeqa Johnson, was published last month. Taking place in the 1950s, it follows the stories of two young ladies who are in the family way. In Philadelphia, Ruby was born to a teenage mother who has more interest in keeping her boyfriend happy than being a parent. Despite this and the poverty she lives in, Ruby is determined to attend college. A wrench is thrown into that plan via a forbidden romance. Shimmy is the son of her aunt’s Jewish landlord. When Ruby discovers that she is to become a mother herself, their situation becomes infinitely more complicated.
In Washington D.C., Eleanor is a bright and determined university student. Coming from a working-class family, she wants to make her parents proud. Though she is not looking for love, it finds her. William is the eldest son of an elite upper-class black family. Eleanor is an unexpected choice for a daughter-in-law and not exactly welcomed with open arms. Once they are married, she hopes that bringing their child into the world will solidify their marriage and finally force the respect of her in-laws. But it seems that fate has other plans for her.
I enjoyed this book. The narrative is compelling, the characters are fully drawn, and the details of the era are pitch-perfect. Though Eleanor and Ruby seem to live very different lives, they have a lot in common. As the story intertwines and their combined destiny inches closer, universal questions about motherhood and the choices they make become real.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The House of Eve is available wherever books are sold.
Children are a blessing. They are also the biggest job any adult can take on. Ideally, it takes a mature and responsible person to become a parent. What happens you have a child and you are still a child yourself?
This is another example of a reality show in which the viewer has to question what is real and what has been created to build up drama. While watching this show, I have two thoughts. The first is that I have to question if these children are being exploited for the sake of viewership. The second is that these kids appear to be so blase about this abrupt change in their lives. What bothers me is that there are many couples in this country (one of whom I am very close to) who are ready, willing, and able to become someone’s parents, but cannot do so the old-fashioned way. While these kids pop out their own kids like it is no big deal, adults who want to children are unable to make it happen.
For many women, when we are taught the birds and the bees, there is one message that is emphasized over and over again. The only acceptable way of being a parent is when your married. Having a child outside of wedlock is unacceptable and scandalous. It is even worse when your still a child yourself.
According to reporting from the CDC, approximately 195,000 babies were born to teenage mothers in 2017. Many of these girls are black and brown, and come from families and neighborhoods that are already underserved. Back in the late 90’s, activist and writer Nicole Lynn Lewis was a young lady with a bright future ahead of her. Then she got pregnant and her plans as she knew them to be forever changed. Determined to attend college in spite of the challenges of poverty, homelessness, and the responsibility of being a parent, she had a goal of earning her degree. Her newly published memoir, Pregnant Girl: A Story of Teen Motherhood, College, and Creating a Better Future for Young Families is not just her story. It is the story of many girls whose experiences are similar to that of the author’s.
I loved this book. What is different about this memoir is that Ms. Lewis is also teaching her readers about the stigmas and added levels of anxiety that come with parenthood before the age of twenty. She is throwing down the gauntlet, asking on both a person and societal level to question if this treatment of young parents is fair. What I find inspiring is that instead of throwing herself a pity party, the author did everything she could to not just help herself, but help others in the same situation.
Being a parent is never easy, regardless of age. But so is infertility.
In the 2005 TV movie Mom at Sixteen, Donna Cooper (Jane Krawkowski) is a high school teacher who desperately wants to be a mother. But she is wrestling with infertility. Jacey Jeffries (Panabaker) is a sixteen year old who has discovered that she is pregnant. Her mother, Terry (Mercedes Ruehl), forces Jacey to keep the baby and arrange for adoption after the baby is born. But Jacey decides to keep the baby and have her mother raise her grandchild as her own child. How can Donna help and will Jacey be able to raise her child?
For a Lifetime movie, which is usually oozing schmaltz and predictability, Mom at Sixteen is pretty good. I appreciate that the film honestly depicts both teenage pregnancy and the turmoil that comes with being infertile. Both topics are emotionally difficult, but this film plays in a way that does not feel forced or overdone for the sake of a few more eyeballs on the screen.