Helen and Chris are seventeen, living in Sheffield, England, and preparing for their exams in English and music. Both look forward to university and to careers they love. They also love each other. When Helen finds she’s pregnant, she keeps it a secret for awhile.

She and Chris visit with Chris’s tough but sympathetic aunt, who had an abortion years ago. When Helen’s mother finds out, she urges Helen to have an abortion, makes an appointment, signs her in at the hospital, but Helen leaves. Her mother forbids Chris to see her unless he plans to marry her.

Helen begins a series of letters to her unborn baby, chronicling the lonely and also strangely exciting months of pregnancy, decision-making, altered relationship with family and with Chris. (Among other things, she learns that her mother was born out of wedlock, at a time when illegitimacy was a serious social stigma, which accounts in part for her harshness toward Helen now.) Helen addresses her letters to "Dear Nobody," since so many around her who urge abortion want to convince her that what’s in her body isn’t a person.

Chris goes on a hiking trip to France, passes his A-level exams, meets a new girl who is interested in him, and prepares for university, all the time missing Helen. The day she has the baby, he breaks the barrier of silence and bikes to the hospital to meet his daughter. With no clear decisions for the future, the two open a new door at least to friendship and commitment to care for the child.


The story alternates between Helen’s letters and Chris’s narrative. The characters are realistic and their points of view well-represented. The aunt, parents, grandparents and siblings bring in various strands of subplot that give the book a satisfying complexity while losing nothing of the intensity of Helen and Chris’s developing predicament and the building pressures they’re under.

It takes no position on abortion, though Helen decides to have the baby. The aunt who had an abortion is a sympathetic and helpful character. It is made clear that either choice leaves consequences. The references to the English school system and English places mark its difference from novels set in American high schools, but it is otherwise quite accessible to American teens.


Orchard Books

Place Published

New York



Page Count