Rachel Brignoni set out to write a book to help pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers think through what they want in life and then go out and get it. And she stayed true to that goal throughout this little blue-covered book.
I really like Brignoni’s premise, her goal. Pregnant and parening teenagers need all the help they can get in finding their own footing in this very anti-pregnant-and-parenting-teens society of ours. I was a young mother, although not a teenage mother, and felt some of the public disapproval and negativity that actual teenage mothers feel at very high levels. I feel for these young women, and I am absolutely compelled to cheer on anyone who works to help them gain self-confidence and self-efficacy in their parenting abilities. And so, in that vein, I am absolutely delighted by Brignoni’s book. She’s done a great job of encouraging young women to trust themselves to be good parents and to go out and create a good life for themselves and their children.
Nevertheless (and you just had to know that was coming, didn’t you?), I am concerned the book won’t speak to many teenagers who actually get knocked up and decide to keep the baby. It’s a good book – it really is – but it doesn’t speak a language that most pregnant teenagers have ever heard before. So I worry that there aren’t many pregnant teenagers who will spend enough of their very limited time to get past Brignoni’s language in order to internalize her message.
For example, Brignoni includes a CD with the book that has a very heartfelt, very sweet, soft rock tribute to teenage mothers. And, of course, teenagers’ music taste varies widely, so it would be hard to find one song to reach them all. But these songs sound more like a generic Celine Dion than anything currently popular (like Lil Wayne, for example).
This is the problem throughout Brignoni’s book. While she is always looking to engage teenage mothers in deep conversation that will allow them to see themselves and their goals more clearly, she does so with a marked inability to reach out to teenagers where many of them are.
So for a teenager who can relate to the language found in adult self-help books, I recommend Brignoni’s Hope…Joy (and a Few Little Thoughts) for Pregnant Teens. And indeed, this may be the best option out there right now to help and support a pregnant teenager in getting a grip on her life and moving forward in a positive way. I just wish I had another option to suggest that spoke a bit more directly and productively to today’s pregnant teens.