cover image 16 & Pregnant

16 & Pregnant

LaLa Thomas. MTV, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-66591-727-8

Black 16-year-old best friends Erykah and Kelaya, who live in Lynwood Heights, Nev., have big plans for their futures: Erykah wants to study business at Howard University, and Kelly, a talented basketball player, dreams of playing in the WNBA. But when Erykah’s unplanned pregnancy imperils her goals, her mother insists she get an abortion, and though her Latinx-cued boyfriend Miguel assures her he’ll support her throughout the pregnancy, his mercurial personality sows doubt. Unbeknownst to her mother, Erykah chooses not to terminate the pregnancy and, with Kelly’s help, keeps her decision a secret from her community. As Erykah’s pregnancy progresses, however, she struggles with unforeseen health complications, and Kelly makes a decision that drives a wedge between them. Tension around Erykah’s financial precarity and Kelly’s affluent upbringing heightens their individual conflicts. Via the girls’ alternating perspectives, Thomas expertly balances Erykah and Kelly’s vastly different home lives to compassionately dissect themes of class and misogynoir around life-changing decisions. Believably peppered with facts about Black maternal healthcare, this thought-provoking debut inspired by the reality TV show of the same name is an authentic exploration of the right to choose. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)