This is a part of the blog tour for At What Cost by Jessie Andersen.
During her junior year, sixteen-year-old Maggie Reynolds expected to shop for prom dresses not maternity clothes. Now, instead of studying for the SATs, she’s reading, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Maggie’s ‘Mother Dearest’ lives in fear that Maggie will somehow taint the family name, so Maggie can’t turn to her for help. Meanwhile, her father is oblivious to anything but his 9-9 job. And her boyfriend, Justin? She’s pretty sure he’ll stay by her side.
While Maggie wrestles with her options, Justin offers a solution: abortion. It would solve all her problems quickly, easily, and effectively. And her parents would never know, which means they won’t throw her out and cut her off like they’d always threatened if she got herself knocked up. But an easy decision becomes difficult when Maggie’s aunt discovers her secret and sets out on a mission to stop the abortion, putting a kink in Maggie’s plan. Now Maggie must decide which choice she can live with: abortion or teenage motherhood. Either way, it’ll be a tough road to travel.
Written in third-person narration, At What Cost shares a story of a sixteen-year-old, Maggie Reynolds, who finds out that she has become pregnant at the start of her junior year. After a brief stage of denial, she accepts her condition but feels reluctant to share the news with her family. Only her best friend Lauren and her boyfriend Justin know the secret. One day, Justin hands her pamphlets on abortion and suggests that life can pretty much continue to be in the same way if Maggie goes through with the abortion. Since Maggie is afraid that her parents would disown her when they find out about the pregnancy, she believes abortion would be her best choice. But after aunt Rachel finds her vomiting in the bathroom, she and Rachel become closer. With an adult listening to her, Maggie stops keeping everything to herself. She also learns more about Rachel’s past and sees how Rachel is still living with the consequences of her past choices. Instead of seeing abortion as her only option, Maggie starts seeing life as more than just school and teen pregnancy. She begins to realize many things that she hasn’t realized before. She discovers that what’s good for her has nothing to do with what she thought she had, and in the end, she learns that life can be filled with heartwarming options.
At first, I didn’t think I could relate to Maggie. In the beginning, I saw her as a person who complained a lot and never tried to walk in another person’s shoes. Although I still see her as somewhat immature in the end, I like that she has grown up quite a bit and she blossoms to be a better person, a more empathic daughter who cares about her family and a stronger teenager who is more open to own up to the consequences of her choices.
I like that the issue of teen pregnancy is not dealt with lightly here. In addition to seeing what Maggie wrestles with, I like that we get to see how the parents react to the situation. While Justin is selfish and childishly irresponsible, I think his sense of insecurity and stubbornness add a realistic touch to depict the angst of those who want to brag but fail to own up to anything that goes in the opposite direction. I like that the act of responsibility is explored and while teenagers in the junior year are no longer children, their behavior and action reflect a degree of fears that can be felt universally. I think the author does a great job in showing us a story that feels real, with moments of tenderness that offer hope to those who feel dismal about the subject of teen pregnancy.
Although I’d like to know a bit more about what may happen next after what Maggie goes through in the hospital at the end, I enjoy reading the book. At What Cost is a realistic contemporary that offers glimpses into family tension and relationship reconciliation through a situation that reaches the point of no-return. If you like sensible stories that talk about realistic issues, you’ll want to add this title to your read list.
About the Author
Jessie Andersen lives in a small town in Western New York with her husband and three kids. A former English teacher, she now spends her time writing while the kids are at school and the baby is sleeping. She volunteers at the local library and sings in the church band.
You can also find Jessie at Read Between the Lines.
- 3 e-book copies of At What Cost by Jessie Andersen
- open internationally