three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
10-May-June-2004
user_rating: 
0

A-GirlsTroubleSara Rothman, a 16-year-old honor student in Massachusetts, is pregnant. When her boyfriend disappears after hearing the news, heartbroken Sara chooses an "open" adoption. George and Eva, an older, childless couple, invite the pregnant teen into their home and treat her with compassion. But after the baby arrives, everything shifts drastically. The novel traces the consequences of this adoption for everyone involved.
St. Martin's Press. 356 pages. $24.95.

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"It is no small accomplishment to portray the lives of decent people and their poor choices in such a way that we continue to care about what happens to them; the arc of their conflict, like so many conflicts in life, is deceptively uneventful. ... The characters in Girls in Trouble are blazingly knowable, and it is Leavitt's sympathy that gives her novel both its page-turning momentum and its dignity." Carrie Brown

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3.5 of 5 Stars
"While the scenario may feel as if we've heard it a million times before, Leavitt's approach and close study of the potential heartbreak for all involved is original and new." Sharon Dilworth

Boston Globe 3 of 5 Stars
"...an intriguing examination of the nature of family, with all its emotional undercurrents and mercurial complexities." Karen Campbell

Chicago Tribune 3 of 5 Stars
"...a likable, flowing explication of the complex relationship between mother and child, a bond that cannot be controlled or erased by anyone." Jillian Dunham

SF Chronicle 2 of 5 Stars
"...a novel that, though it tries to take on messy, difficult life problems, doesn't take the chances necessary to make its characters seem very interesting or realistic." Kim Hedges

Critical Summary

Girls in Trouble flaunts "all the ingredients for a Lifetime television drama" (The Pittsburgh Post Gazette). In this earnest but uneven work, that's a compliment. Reviewers agree that Leavitt's eighth novel skips over one decisive event too lightly, then unconvincingly leaps forward 15 years. Leavitt has mined this territory before, the slow maturation of a lovesick girl. It's not a very remarkable journey, but the author handles it with sensitivity. The Washington Post calls Girls "a canny portrait of the trouble perfectly ordinary people can get into while trying to satisfy their perfectly ordinary needs for love and security and happiness." It's sure to appeal to Jacquelyn Mitchard fans.