cover image I Know It's Over

I Know It's Over

C. K. Kelly Martin, . . Random, $16.99 (244pp) ISBN 978-0-375-84566-6

Just as he is leaving his mother's house to spend Christmas with his dad, 16-year-old Nick receives a surprise visit from his ex-girlfriend, Sasha: she's pregnant. Still hurt from their recent breakup, Nick has no idea how to respond. Debut novelist Martin displays uncanny insight, replacing the issue-driven engine common to most pregnant-teen stories with an emotionally complex and disarmingly frank coming-of-age tale. As narrator, Nick reviews his relationships, and confronts his drives and how he controls them—and how his friends and his father control, or fail to control, theirs. Martin is especially good at writing about sex: Nick is believably awkward, Sasha more mature (especially as viewed by Nick), and it takes the couple more than one try to get it right (“You'd think sex would make you feel less innocent. It didn't work that way for me,” Nick ruminates. “I felt new”). In describing Nick's struggle to do the right thing by Sasha, the author defines each feeling, coloring in Nick's momentary failures as well as the full pain of his realization, as Sasha recuperates from an abortion: “We're at the very end.... All I have to do is walk out the door.” Ages 14–up. (Sept.)