Not My Daughter
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This was my selection. Like usual, it had been on my want to read list for quite a while. I picked up a copy at a book sale or some place similar and thought it would generate some good discussion at a book club. The premise sounded engaging; like something any mother could relate to. In the end, or actually all the way through, I felt like the book was weak. It really didn't grab me like I thought it would and I am somewhat regretful that I wasted a choice on it.
On a scale of 1 - 5:
Sex - You would expect a book about a teenage pregnancy pact to have some references to sex. The reader gets surprisingly little information about how the babies were conceived. There is some sex between two unmarried adults who have a long standing relationship and some details are shared but it is very low key. (ref. p. 92 / end of Chapter 8 and p. 247)
Religion - There may have been a few passing references to religious affiliations but nothing that stands out in my memory.
Gruesome - Discussion of a medical condition in a fetus is presented more as an internet search than medically descriptive.
Suspense - Nothing more than a strong curiosity about how situations were going to work out.
Morality - The book is full of moral dilemmas beyond just teen pregnancy. There are issues such as how involved should a father be, what are the father's rights, how does a teenage pregnancy reflect on the parents or on the school administration.
There is a sub-theme throughout the book of knitting, which was a surprise bonus to me. If I had known that ahead of time it would have made me want to read the book even more. Yet, as it turns out, that sub-theme was just as disappointing and weak.
I did find the romantic thread in the book enjoyable. Romance novels - the kind with the strapping, good-looking guy sweeping a lady off her feet and saving the day - are my favorite genre. This book has the character of Rick, who fathered a child out of wedlock years before this story begins, and in spite of being off building his career, he seems to keep a decent involvement with the child. He and the mother maintain a bit of a hot, steamy connection.
Once the problems begin with their daughter he rides to the rescue on several occasions. Although it seems impractical and is a relationship that probably only truly works in a fictional setting, it was still nice.
Lily insisted that it was her baby so she got to make the decisions. As an adult, do you think a 17 year old should have that right? What about when Susan scheduled the amniocentesis - was she right to do that for her daughter?
On page 63 Pam asks Susan what she'll do. " 'She wants the baby, Pam. She's heard the heartbeat. She knows the options. She wants the baby.' / 'And you'll just let her have it?' / 'What can I do? ...'
Was Pam right to accuse Susan of "letting" Lily have the baby? What could Susan do?
On page 65 Pam felt that the pregnancy would mess up the Perry & Cass Mother's Day promotion. How did you feel about the town being a company (Perry & Cass) town? Did the concept make sense to you? What did it add to the story? Did the pregnancies really affect the company? (ref. p. 118)
What dreams do you have for your daughter (or son)? How would a baby change those dreams?
When was the right time to tell Pam about the three pregnancies?
Was it reasonable that Lily's pregnancy put her mother's job in jeopardy?
When Lily's pregnancy was exposed, should Mary Kate and Jess have admitted their pregnancies too to support their friend (and pact) or was it okay that they waited?
Which of the girls did you suspect had instigated the pact?
Does pop culture and "bump alerts" give the wrong impression of pregnancy? (p. 113)
Was the funeral the right time for Lily to meet her grandmother?
On page 199, when Lily spoke up to her uncle, was she talking back? Did the elders need to earn her respect?
At the end of Chapter 18 and beginning of Chapter 19, Susan doubted that Lily had felt the baby move. Why is the movement or non-movement significant? Did anyone ever doubt what you felt when pregnant? How did you feel?
Was Evan right to take action on Michael Brewer's cheating while Susan was away? And what about Susan's decision "not to punish the three girls who had formed a pact to become pregnant"? (p. 214) Would it have been within the realm of the school to punish them? Compare this idea to the 2014 incidents of the NFL taking action against players who abused their spouses.
When Rick and Susan fought in the car, did you believe that maybe Susan had it wrong and Rick had loved her all along? Would their life have turned out well if they had married young? (ref. p. 266 / end of Ch. 23)
Why did Susan keep letting Rick go? (p. 318)
Were you happy with the way things ended up in the Epilogue?
Serve hummus on toasted crostini like Susan and Lily shared at Carlino's restaurant in the opening scene. You could also serve Chicken with Cannellini Beans or Salmon with Artichokes like the dishes they each ordered.
Play girls a cappella music.
Hold your meeting in a barn.
Decorate with a knitting theme: scarves, blankets, balls of yarn, knitting needles
Serve Lobster Mac & Cheese like Kate was fixing when Mary Kate announced her pregnancy.
The book spends a lot of time in the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons so use one of those holidays as the theme and serve holiday food. Or serve "hot French toast", Susan and Lily's "traditional holiday breakfast". (p. 241 / Ch. 22)
Serve "crab and corn bisque", Susan's favorite that Lily made for her at the beginning of Chapter 12.
Serve corn chowder and chicken sandwiches like Lily had after her first sonogram.
Serve coffee and doughnuts like Rick and Susan had while waiting for the surgery.
Decorate with "a rainbow of balloons", "a large WELCOME...banner hung between windows", balloon bouquets in "navy-and-yellow" and "fuchsia". (p. 316 / end of Ch. 27)