At fourteen, after marginally consensual sex with a boyfriend, Jane has a baby.  She managed to keep her pregnancy a well-camouflaged secret until late in the process; both family and friends are still reeling from her late-breaking news.  Her mother has died; her grandmother has moved from the tribal reservation to live with Jane, her father (a white Canadian), and Jane's two brothers.  Though the school she attends has daycare for students' babies, Jane finds little emotional support, even among former friends, until a new girl, Dawna, takes an active, unpretentious interest in both Jane and the baby.

With Dawna's and her grandmother's help Jane decides to make the rather complicated arrangements required to allow her to audition for the school play and pursue a longstanding dream of singing and dancing on stage.  She meets with fierce and aggressive competition from a much more privileged girl who does her best to discredit Jane's efforts on account of her unfitness as both a Native American who doesn't look the part, and as an unwed mother who, as one faculty member puts it, shouldn't "parade herself" in public.  Nevertheless, Jane's skill and determination and soul-searching pay off; despite the steep learning curve required to care for a baby and the psychological cost of teen motherhood, she succeeds in making the accommodations and compromises necessary to retrieve old dreams on new terms.



The story begins with a long scene in the delivery room where Jane's brother stands by her reluctantly in lieu of her child's father.  The writer is explicit both about the realities of childbirth and the practical difficulties of child care.  Though largely about friendship, the adaptations to motherhood, the realities of complex social stigmas--race, class, conflicting loyalties, and the power of the fashionable body--all figure strongly in this well-told story of a life-changing school year.  The grandmother is wise and insightful, but not sentimentalized.  Jane's friends, both those that abandon her and those who come around to valuing her in new ways, are believable characters in their own right.  Her brothers and father have their own problems with the law, with their still unresolved grief in the wake of the mother's death, but their family attachments survive multiple frictions.  The book provides a worthwhile, gritty and sympathetic look at some of the realities of teen parenthood.


Sononis Press

Place Published

Winlaw, British Columbia



Page Count