London, Walker, 2014, 381p
Trouble has been celebrated as one of the best contemporary novels about teen pregnancy, but I felt like it was about so much more than that. With drama between friends, romance through school, and the moments of tragedy, you could almost forget that the book centred around a growing baby.
Hannah is fifteen and pregnant. She has a bit of a reputation around school, and rumours immediately spread. She expects her best friend, Katie, to stand by her, but when Katie starts dating Rex, she becomes part of the most popular group in school and drops Hannah.
Aaron is new to the area, with a mysterious past and a determination to move on. Somehow, he ends up friends with Hannah, and soon finds himself offering to be her fake baby daddy. He's convinced there is more to her than the popular kids see, and his faith in her allows the development of a beautiful and strong friendship.
The novel plays out over the course of Hannah's pregnancy, with elements of the truth being revealed as the story unfolds. For the first half of the book, you can only speculate about who the father is, allowing your mind to play through every scenario, even the worst cases. Meanwhile, although it is clear Aaron is haunted by his past, you can only guess at what happened to bring him into Hannah's life.
Their friendship is all about compromise, which is what the best real life friendships are about. Hannah and Aaron are similar in many ways, but also incredibly different, and in situations where all she wants to do is talk, he sometimes finds himself bottling up. But their trust is inspiring, and, with the support of family and other friends, they make it through the trials of the pregnancy.
Trouble is about so many of the challenges facing young people today - peer pressure, sexuality, bullying (especially cyber bullying), conflict with parents, the expectations of school and society - that the pregnancy plot almost a subplot. But that is what I liked about this book - that it was about so much more than what you see on the cover.