if you were a teenager who was doing well at parochial school and
enjoying a decent social life but ended up pregnant? All your choices
are difficult, and each comes with consequences. Addie has no doubt she
made the correct decision, but she is not the same girl she was before.
—Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (Greenwillow, 2016, p. 1, uncorrected ARC)Public School Kids Always Ask
How do you meet guys
if you go to an all-girls school? . . .
Even if we brushed with garlic toothpaste
we couldn't keep the vampires away.
- Setting: modern times, Minneapolis
- Circumstances: Addie, a cross-country track star, starts dating Nick, a nice guy who plays the bass in a band. Soon they give into their passions, resulting in Addie becoming pregnant. After taking a pregnancy test, she tells Nick and her parents she wants an abortion. Afterward, her views on school, track, and her old friends change, and she must figure out who is she now.
- Characters: Addie, a student at a Catholic high school; Claire, her friend and track rival; Nick, her boyfriend; various other classmates; her parents; her track coach; her English teacher; Juliana, an older girl who used to go to Addie's school
- Genre, audience, style: contemporary fiction; young adult with strong cross-over to adults; a novel in verse
- Themes: coming of age, finding one's self, making choices and living with them, friendship, dating, young love, family, relevancy of Catholicism
- Thoughts: Heppermann explores tough issues in a respectful, nonjudgmental way. The poems are short and address different aspects of Addie's life over the course of seven months as she transforms from a carefree teen to young woman with a revised self-image. Addie has no regrets, but she has definitely changed—for example, her life is no longer an open book: Who will she tell about her abortion? How can she explain her new attitude about running? What about her religious training? Does still want to date Nick?
- Recommendation: I read this all in one go, finding it difficult to put the book down. Later, I went back and read the poems more slowly, fully absorbing the words. No matter where you fall on the issue of a woman's right to choose, Ask Me How I Got Here will make you think. I loved it and recommend it without hesitation. Note too this would be a wonderful book club selection for adults and teens.