The Choice by Robert Whitlow
The year is 1974 and 17 year old cheerleader, Sandy Lincoln, finds herself pregnant after only one night of giving into to her football player boyfriend. Abortion is touted by friends and family as the "cure" for her "problem." Amid an overwhelming amount of well-meaning advice, Sandy must make a choice: abort the baby, keep the baby, or give the baby up for adoption. Two of those options involve facing the world as a pregnant teenager and being forced to finish high school at the juvenile delinquent alternative school.
Fast forward 33 years...Sandy is a veteran English teacher in the same hometown that she grew up in. Suddenly a shy, Spanish-speaking student comes to Sandy with the information that she is pregnant from the result of rape. Following the rules, Sandy take the student to the school counselor who pushes the girl to abort her baby. She exerts so much pressure in fact that she starts pressing charges against Sandy for interfering with the girl's life. How best can Sandy help her innocent, young charge? How does Sandy's past affect this girl's present situation?
I think Robert Whitlow's book is brilliant. The setting of the book is 1974, one year after Roe vs Wade made abortion legal in the US. The long-term psychological effects of abortion are not known. At that time high schools would not allow you to continue to attend if you were pregnant, so choosing to have the baby could also result in losing your chance at a high school diploma. Our society today is a lot more tolerant of pregnant teenagers than it was in 1974. I think that makes Sandy's choice that much more difficult.
Whitlow did a great job of describing Sandy's inner turmoil as well as her justifications for her final decision. It was also interesting to remember a world where phones are attached to walls with a cord and a tank of gas can be bought for a $5 bill. He did a good job of inserting those little tidbits to remind us of the setting without going overboard with them.
Without revealing too much about the plot, there were parts of the story that I thought were a little too coincidental, but I kind of expected them to come. In general, I thought the story line was very well done, very unique and also very timely.
Whitlow does a great job of giving us lovable fully rounded characters, ones that have to make hard decisions. In neither situation - Sandy's or her pregnant student's - is the choice easy.
As he mentions a little in the Author's Note at the end, Whitlow's choice of title was very purposeful. The Pro-Choice movement leads us to believe that the word "choice" really means "the choice to abort." But in this story, a young girl is about to be deprived of her choice not to abort.
This is a great, thought-provoking, easy-to-read story that everyone will enjoy.
I give The Choice 5 out of 5 stars.
I was provided with a complementary Kindle version of this book by Booksneeze. The honest opinions are my own.