Fact of Life #31

Fact of Life #31

4.7 20
by Denise Vega

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FACT OF LIFE #48: Kat’s mom is No-Last-Name Abra, the best home-birth midwife in Colorado. But with her own daughter, Abra can’t stop teaching and lecturing long enough to be a mom.

Fact of Life #21: Kat’s had a crush on Manny Cruz since seventh grade. Now Manny is showing interest , but could he seriously be into Weird Yoga Girl Kat Flynn?


FACT OF LIFE #48: Kat’s mom is No-Last-Name Abra, the best home-birth midwife in Colorado. But with her own daughter, Abra can’t stop teaching and lecturing long enough to be a mom.

Fact of Life #21: Kat’s had a crush on Manny Cruz since seventh grade. Now Manny is showing interest , but could he seriously be into Weird Yoga Girl Kat Flynn?

Fact of Life #14: Gorgeous Libby Giles has always intimidated Kat. But lately there’s something different about Libby, and it’s about to bring her crashing into Kat’s Life. . . .

Hilarious and poignant, this is the story of one girl’s sometimes funny, sometimes painful path to self-acceptance and to finding her place in the world.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Myrna Marler
Kat (or Katima) works for her mother Abra (no last name), a midwife, an earth mother type. Abra bonds in a maternal way with her prospective mothers, but she can't talk to Kat without a lecture or giving directives. They are not close, and Kat hides much of her life from her mother's gaze and won't admit that she loves working in the midwifery. Kat is one of the "weird" kids at her school; she's nearly six feet tall, is skinny but strong, does yoga in the hallway, has frizzy red hair, and likes to work out and run. She hangs out with her best friend Christy, who wears vintage hats to school, and Christy's ever-present boyfriend. She also hates from afar Libby Giles, the queen bee of the local high school hierarchy, and has had a passionate crush on Manny Cruz for years. He sits behind her in Spanish class, and one day he asks to borrow a pen and doesn't return it. She accuses him of pen-napping, and suddenly, he is looking at her in a new way. A romance develops and blooms and both keep it a secret. Kat feels her feelings are too important to share, but Manny's reasons are more hurtful: he's ashamed to be seen with her. Then, Libby Giles shows up at the midwifery pregnant and immediately bonds with her mother. Somehow, Kat navigates through this maze of pain and jealousy with her self-identity intact. The novel is well written and well paced. All the characters are likable even as they fail to communicate with each other in moments of comedy juxtaposed with real pain. Reviewer: Myrna Marler
VOYA - Erin Wyatt
Katima Flynn works for her mother, a midwife named Abra. Kat does yoga in the school hallways, trains for a triathlon, and is a talented artist. Although Abra says she did not raise her girls to be piners, Kat has brooded over handsome, popular Manny Cruz for years. When Manny suddenly seems interested, Kat is thrilled and keeps the relationship private. When queen-bee Libby finds herself pregnant and shows up at the midwifery, Kat feels her world unraveling. After overhearing Manny disparage her to save face with his friends, having a fight with her best friend, and seeing her mom give motherly affection to Libby, Kat is miserable. Relying on her strong sense of self, Kat is able to persevere through these struggles. Facts of life penned by Kat and tidbits from a midwifery journal kept by young Abra are interspersed as part of the narrative. But this device largely disappears during the middle portions of the book. The main characters are well developed, with complexity that goes far beyond the in-crowd stereotype. The many different people and situations Kat encounters help shed light on her personality, struggle, and growth. Kat is a unique character with an unusual job for whom readers will cheer. Reviewer: Erin Wyatt
Kirkus Reviews
High-school junior Kat Flynn loves working after school at her mother's birthing center where her kindness and compassion make her popular with the expectant mothers. A well-known midwife, Abra is warm and loving with her patients but distant and overbearing with her children, annoying Kat with her insistence on control. While assisting at her first home birth, Kat's lack of preparation turns the experience into a disaster, setting the stage for her own journey of self-discovery. The book's innovative structure-it is divided into the three trimesters of pregnancy-charts Kat's personal growth. Vega sets the story in Colorado, where vegetarianism, cruelty-free makeup and environmental awareness set the standard for coolness; she lightly touches on abortion, adoption and teen pregnancy without moralizing. In a neatly tied-up ending, Kat makes the decision to become a midwife, like Abra, after delivering a classmate's baby. Told in Kat's passionate voice, this coming-of-age novel, with its romantic subplot, snappy dialogue and strong secondary characters, will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
401 KB
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt


The numbers seemed to pulse on my pager, quickening along with my heartbeat. Abra only used the pager for emergencies, because sometimes I didn’t answer when she called my cell. I jammed my headset into my cell and dialed her number.

“Katima, thank God.” Her voice was soft but the words were quick, anxious. I rarely heard Abra sound anxious. “Where are you?”

“On my way to school,” I said. “Where are you?”

“I’m at Linda’s,” Abra said. “She’s in labor.”

“Is everything okay?” Linda was one of my favorites of Abra’s mothers. I had been working two afternoons a week at Abra’s Midwifery for over a year and had gotten to know a lot of the women. Linda and I had hit it off, sharing a love of rocky road ice cream and a hatred of reality TV. I had helped her plan her birth—the music, atmosphere, different birth options. I didn’t want her having complications.

“She’s doing beautifully,” Abra said. “But I’m not. Marion broke her foot, Sarah is at another birth, and Carmen isn’t picking up any of her phones or responding to my page.” Abra sucked in a breath. “I have no one to assist me.”

I eased down on the brakes of my Honda hybrid as I came to a stop sign. “Um, okay. But you’ve delivered lots of babies without an assistant.”

“I know. But Linda wants one so I need you to get to her house as fast as you can.”

“Say what?” I hit the gas too hard, jerking the car forward.

“I’ve excused you from school,” Abra said. “This is life experience, Katima. A transcendent experience. You won’t get that in any classroom.”

My hands shook on the steering wheel. I turned down a side street and pulled over, shutting off the ignition. I didn’t know if I was pissed at her for assuming I’d do it or excited that I might actually get to see a live birth.

But what did I know about assisting?

“You’re out of your mind.”

“Well, that’s highly possible,” Abra said, “seeing as how I’ve exhausted all of my usual assistants and I’m calling a sixteen-year-old high school student who’s worked at the Midwifery for a year.” She chuckled. “If I’m not out of my mind, I’m clearly a little desperate, Katima.”

Clearly. “Is it all right with Linda and Wayne?”

“Of course,” Abra said. “I would never do something like this without asking them.” There was a pause before she spoke again. “Actually, Linda is the one who suggested it.”

“She did?” A grin spread across my face. “Tell me how to get there.”

* * *

I pulled up at Linda’s house about thirty minutes later. It was in a new development—big gables and dormer windows, small trees, new sod. I was shaking with nervous excitement. I’d never seen a baby emerge like an oversized Otter Pop except in that movie we saw back in sixth grade. The idea thrilled and petrified me at the same time.

I glanced around the car. I had no idea what I might need, but I knew there would be times when we would just wait. Unzipping my backpack, I flipped through textbooks and notebooks, pulling out the Rocky Mountain Women’s Triathlon brochure I’d been reading. Then I grabbed my sketchbook and some pencils before heading into the house.

“Kat,” Linda said when I arrived. “I’m so glad you’re here.” She was wearing one of her husband Wayne’s oversized T-shirts, her nipples poking through the fabric. Her maternity underwear hugged her butt.

“You sure you want me here?”

She made an “are you kidding?” face. Then she quickly sucked in her breath.

“Another one?” Wayne asked, rubbing her back.

Linda nodded, letting out her breath slow and even. Abra once told me that for some women, labor pains are menstrual cramps times a few hundred—for some, times a thousand or so. Yikes. But Linda’s face wasn’t all pinched up in pain. It was calm; her eyes focused.

I turned and watched Abra as she moved between tasks, so fluidly she hardly seemed to be moving at all. I thought of that phrase “She was in her element.” But here in this room, with the shades drawn and a few candles flickering, Abra was more than that—she was the element. I’d seen her at the office, but never at a birth, never like this—a person who moved with grace and perfect timing, anticipating, checking, doing. Always doing the right thing.

“Slowly, Katima,” Abra said as I hurried over. “You want to create a calm environment.” She motioned me next to her. “Help me with this.” I stepped around the large layer of plastic spread out on the floor beside the bed. “Your job is P-I-E,” Abra whispered. “Physical, informational, and emotional support.”

“I’m not a doula, Abra,” I said. “I’m your receptionist and occasional office visit assistant.”

Abra smiled, but I knew what she was thinking: You don’t have to remind me that you are a lame excuse for a birth assistant.

“Just do what I tell you,” she said. “You’ll be fine.”

Like I would know how to do anything except what she told me. But at least she had some confidence that I could help out.

“Hold the sheets up,” she said. I did, and she put plastic beneath them. We smoothed the sheets back down and fluffed the pillows.

“All right,” Abra said, surveying the room. I could tell she was taking a mental inventory, making sure everything was in its place. She had a table with all of her supplies at the ready; the birthing ball and birthing stool were resting in a corner in case Linda wanted to use them.

I wasn’t sure what she needed me for. It looked like she had everything under control. I glanced at her as she stood out of the way, her eyes resting softly on Linda and Wayne.

Abra. The best home birth midwife in the Rocky Mountain region.

Abra. Practically perfect in every way.

Abra. My mother.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Denise Vega is the author of Click Here: To Find Out How I Survived Seventh Grade. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Fact of Life #31 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Kat(ima) is invisible at Tabor High. Or if not exactly invisible, then freaky Yoga Girl. And her best friend is the girl that wears the crazy hats. And to make matters worse, her mom owns Midwifery. It's a New-Age type midwife service that allows pregnant women to birth at home naturally. Her mom simply goes by Abra. No last name, just Abra. Kat helps out there twice a week doing various office duties.

The story starts off with Abra calling Kat up and begging her to assist with a birth. Kat has never done that before, and the couple having the baby is pleased to have Kat there. However, Kat fumbles through everything and makes a mess of it all. Her mom doesn't want her along any more, and in a fit of rebellion, Kat quits, agreeing to stay on until her mom is able to find a replacement. So junior year for Kat isn't off to a great start.

Things may be looking up though when her crush of the last few years, Manny Cruz, asks her a question in Spanish class. Kat can count on her hand the number of interactions she's had with him previously. What started out as one innocent question soon turns into random meetings around town, and then soon the two are secretly dating. But at school, neither acknowledges the other.

Enter Libby Giles, the beautiful "it" girl of the senior class. Libby has just broken it off with her boyfriend, Mitch. No one knows the full story, but it's obvious to all that Mitch was not the dumper, but the dumpee. In what turns into frequent chance encounters, Mitch and Kat keep running into each other. They soon form a hesitant friendship, and Mitch turns to Kat for advice in getting Libby back. An added plus to the friendship is that Manny and Mitch are friends, and Mitch actually approves of the secret friendship Manny and Kat have.

During the course of the school year, there are ups and downs for Kat at school, with Manny, at home and with her best friend, Christy. The day Libby enters the Midwifery, everything Kat has assumed about others is thrown out the window. She must re-evaluate everything she has known and understood.

Kat is a wonderful character that the reader immediately comes to love. Through her highs and lows, the reader is constantly rooting for her. All along the reader knows that Kat is stronger than she realizes, and the self-acceptance she gets in the end makes you want to stand up and applaud for her. Read FACT OF LIFE #31 and you too will come to learn that maybe there really aren't any true facts of life. Or are there?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What she did not know know one did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kk. Gtgtb. Night!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Na ill stay (i rp dingoeplt )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ask violetsong. Sh was the one posessed. I have been confuzzled aboit it. It mentions soething about family bonds and is about me whitewing and streakfire
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PurpleRyder More than 1 year ago
This is a truly amazing book, I really love it. Denise Vega did an amazing job witing this, and her charecters are very well developved. I could relate to her story line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Katima Flynn, better known as Kat, works for her mother at Abra¿s Midwifery. But even though she¿s more than competent around the office, she screws up at her first baby delivery. Kat is so embarrassed that she quits the job that she loves at the Midwifery and instead focuses her attention on pretraining for the triathlon she plans to compete in. Her role in new mothers¿ lives has been reduced to occasionally sketching their children¿s births. Kat feels extremely out of place. Add in a little boy drama, family issues, and unexpected new friends, and Kat is now on a life-changing journey. Fact of Life #31 was a cute and amusing novel. I really enjoyed reading from Kat¿s perspective. She¿s a funny girl who speaks her mind and usually knows what she wants. What I liked most about her, though, was that she knows she doesn¿t fit in at school and is mostly okay with it. Kat is a very realistic character. She is aware of her low social statues but can¿t help pining over a popular guy. I loved how pretty much all the characters that interacted with Kat had a positive influence on her. The plot is never too exciting, but since the characters are so wonderfully developed, I most definitely recommend this novel. Readers looking for an amusing yet meaningful story should definitely check out Kat¿s story in Fact of Life #31.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Read it. There's not much else I can say but It's definitely an experience. IT describes the heartbreak so many girls feel but offers anothe rwiser perspective.