Planet Pregnancy

Planet Pregnancy

by Linda Oatman High

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For sixteen-year-old Sahara, "life and death and everything in between" depends on the color of a little stick in this YALSA/ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers. She waits three long minutes, praying to Jesus, Mary, and all the saints that the stick will turn blue, meaning she isn't pregnant. Instead, the stick turns pick and Sahara's life is changed


For sixteen-year-old Sahara, "life and death and everything in between" depends on the color of a little stick in this YALSA/ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers. She waits three long minutes, praying to Jesus, Mary, and all the saints that the stick will turn blue, meaning she isn't pregnant. Instead, the stick turns pick and Sahara's life is changed in a heartbeat. Now she struggles with three choices: "keep, give away, or lose."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

When 16-year-old Sahara, the one-time Dixie Queen in her small West Texas town, discovers that she is pregnant, she feels like the "one and only/ lonely resident/ of Planet Pregnancy" and fleetingly considers adoption and abortion, but basically can't bring herself to face facts. In her sixth month, she realizes, "It's kind of late/ in the pregnancy," and decides to have the baby, although she still doesn't tell anyone yet. Her lack of maturity will hit readers hard: she invents a date-rape story to tell her mother, complains about her looks and, even at the end of the book, when she falls in love with her newborn, seems ill prepared for what's ahead. Although High (The Girl on the High-Diving Horse) works in contemporary references, e.g., to the safe haven law allowing new parents to surrender infants safely, she mostly sticks to well-trod territory. The choice of a verse format, while attention-getting, results in some awkward passages. Rhyme schemes, for example, sometimes dictate content, as when her orthodontist notices her weight gain: "Must be that new pizza/ place: Carini./ Better watch out,/ or you won't fit into/ a bikini!" Ages 13-up. (Oct.)

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VOYA - Jennifer McConnel
Seventeen-year-old Sahara has just left Texas and entered Planet Pregnancy, inhabited only by herself and "Embryo." Sahara cannot imagine how she could be pregnant because "tragedy happens to other people, not me." When Sahara becomes the stereotypical "catastrophe," she is understandably frightened and shies from revealing her circumstances to those who might provide help and support as she attempts to make a decision that will alter the rest of her life. As the days tick by and Sahara remains silent, she is overwhelmed by the only three options she can conceive: to become a young mother, to give up her child for adoption, or to "Take Care Of It" and try to move beyond her mistake. Alone with her thoughts, Sahara's terror deepens as her condition progresses, and her options quickly begin to run out. Told in free verse that lends authenticity to the narrator's teen voice, this novel chronicles the momentous nine-month journey that Sahara enters, starting with the shocking results of her home pregnancy test and ending after the delivery of her child. The discomforts of pregnancy and the anguish of being seventeen and on the verge of adult life are presented with humor and honesty, making Sahara leap off the page and become a girl who could be found in any school, anywhere in modern America. Although some readers might disagree with Sahara's ultimate choice, the novel is a realistic and compelling read for any teen. Reviewer: Jennifer McConnel
Mary Schmutz
Sahara is waiting, rather impatiently, for the results of a test. This is the test of her lifetime. She counts down the remaining time for the results in seconds and memories. In three minutes, she has now joined the ranks of the thousands of unwed teenage mothers. Now that she knows, she had to decide the fate of this egg's life and her own life. Sahara shares her thoughts in free verse that sometimes sounds like a rap. She lets the reader in on all her thoughts about the baby's father, the choices that Sahara must make, and how she gets through the various days in a nine-month cycle. She finds out more about her own life such as actually meeting her own father and what makes a parent. Planet Pregnancy walks the reader through what a teen mother thinks, feels, and wonders. It's a quick but thorough must-read. Reviewer: Mary Schmutz
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

This short book in poetry format follows the pregnancy of 16-year-old Sahara as she goes from feeling depressed and alone to feeling depressed and having no choice but to share her burden with her unsupportive family. Don't think Juno (from the hit 2007 film) or Bobby (from Angela Johnson's The First Part Last [S & S, 2003]); Sahara is an uninspiring teen with a bemoaning attitude, a deep-grained refusal to take on responsibility, a lack of foresight, and a dearth of empathy. Perhaps due to the poetry not being very poetic-rather, prose snippets that occasionally hit a rhythm or poetic truth-none of the characters are particularly well developed and some sections drag on and on after the emotion has already been thoroughly explored. However, this realistic cautionary tale does address many difficult issues without overt judgment: Sahara's sexual activity, the challenge to her pro-life upbringing, the meaning of motherhood, and the teen father's role.-Rhona Campbell, Washington, DC Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
When she sees that fateful pink line, 16-year old Sahara knows that life as she knew it, life as a West Texas Dixie Queen, is over. She hides her growing belly and vomit-breath, but navigating a strange new world, an alien preggo planet, leaves her terrified and frazzled. As Sahara wavers between whether to keep the baby or not, she sinks into depression, hiding in bed and oversized clothes. This first-person, free-verse narrative captures the fear and desperation of unplanned teen pregnancy. It also delivers a unique young-adult voice, one appropriately dulled by disillusionment but that also makes readers laugh. Sahara offers simmering, cynical summations of her unlucky circumstances that evoke pity and a few bittersweet chuckles. Clipped, conversational verse keeps Sahara's story, which High divides into three trimester sections, moving. Readers see subtle changes in Sahara's outlook as her pregnancy progresses, and she stops calling her baby "The Egg" or "The Fetus." Irregular, sing-songy rhyme may distract readers at times, but the realistic pull of both Sahara and her pregnancy will keep teens engaged, wondering if she'll end up calling the baby her own. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Highlights Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Linda Oatman High is an author of books for children, teens, and adults. Also a poet, she is the winner of a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Honor Award. She lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

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