cover image The Best and Hardest Thing

The Best and Hardest Thing

Pat Brisson, Viking, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-670-01166-7

Written in verse, picture book author Brisson's first work for teens explores the intense emotions of a 15-year-old over the course of her pregnancy. Molly has grown up with her grandmother, shouldering responsibilities beyond her age, and learning to make herself "quiet, small, and good." Tired of going unnoticed, Molly believes that cute and enigmatic Grady may help to change her persona: "I'm giving myself a makeover,/ head to foot,/ inside and out./ No more/ Good Girl/Saint of the Day/Miss Perfect." But following their one-night stand, Molly grapples with shame and fear that she might be pregnant. Experimenting with different forms (from villanelle to limerick) introduced in poetry class, Molly's tone is often contrite ("I don't know much about him at all—/ so why did I think I knew/ he would use a condom?"), while other poems are humorous ("Question: How Is a Pregnant Girl Like a Library Book?). Molly's decision may move readers, but her earlier vacillation between difficult choices—"My problem isn't making a decision;/ it's recognizing the right one/ once I've made it"—is where the material is most inspired. Ages 12–up. (May)