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Sydney Biggs is 16 and pregnant. However, she isn't like the young women on the MTV show of the same name -- i.e., she is not whiney, bitchy and annoying. Instead, she knows she needs to get an abortion. Unfortunately she can't, because she and her best friend Natalia get caught having stolen Natalia's parents' car, driving to a party so she can inform the young man who got her pregnant. As a result of this, she gets sent to a wilderness camp with a bunch of other young people who also have done something wrong. She doesn't tell her parents she is pregnant. So now she is trapped in Canada on a weird camping expedition, when she should be getting rid of the baby. Nathalia joins her, and applies gradual pressure to convince her to keep the baby. This causes friction in their friendship, but it also has some effect. Sydney goes to a private high school for rich kids but she lives with her mother who is overworked and hardly ever sees her granola father who only seems to care about saving the earth. So she never expected to get pregnant, and she rejoices in her own smartness. Actually being pregnant is pretty weird, and she can't cope with it, so she copes by denial. It's only through Nathalia's efforts and her teenage companions in her wilderness trek that she comes to terms with being pregnant, and eventually makes a decision about what to do. The main dramatic tension in the book is about what she will do. Will she really go ahead with the abortion, or will she give it up for adoption by someone else, possibly Nathalia herself.
So this story addresses both abortion and class, and that makes it interesting. Sidney is "the girl next door" if you live in a well-to-do neighborhood, and she has the ability to think hard about abortion, but she does not chose to do so. At the camping trip, the girls meet boys who are in an "at risk" program and come from much grittier backgrounds, as well as another boy who is a start in a TV soap. Sydney's experience in difficult situations and her learning about other people's lives helps her come to a decision about whether to have an abortion and whether to disappoint her best friend.
Every Little Thing In the World is an unusual book because it shows a young women thinking through the decision about whether to have an abortion and taking each side seriously. Syndey may not be the most typical case of a teen pregnancy, but she is at least an eloquent narrator. Her parents are so eccentric as to be unconvincing characters, but it does make them interesting. Given how rare this sort of book is, it deserves attention. The performance of the book by Abby Craden makes Sydney seem quiet and rather young, although that interpretation isn't dictated by the text. It's still an engaging reading.
© 2011 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York
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