Publication date : April 30th, 2019
Publisher : Harlequin Teen
Genre : Young Adult |Contemporary
Page Count: 384
Synopsis : When 16 year old Serendipity Rodriguez attends a house party to celebrate the end of sophomore year, she has no intention of getting drunk and hooking up with a guy she’s just met, let alone getting pregnant. To make matters worse, she has no way of contacting the father and she and her mother are about to move to a new town and in with her grandmother. It’s hard enough to start your junior year as the new kid in school, but at 5-months pregnant it’s even harder. So when Sara meets Leaf, who asks her out and doesn’t seem to care that she’s pregnant, she finds herself falling.
Juggling the realities of a pregnancy with school and a new relationship are hard enough, but when Jack, the father of her baby, turns back up, Sara’s life goes from complicated to a complete mess. With the help of her overbearing mother and grandmother, Sara will learn to navigate life’s challenges and be ready for anything, as she prepares for the birth of her baby. (From Goodreads)
*I received an early copy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review*
CW: Racist microaggressions, explicit pregnancy, ableist language
The minute I heard the premise of this book I knew I wanted to read it. A sixteen year old girl who finds herself pregnant after a one night stand and has to navigate the pregnancy AND a new high school? YES PLEASE!! This is unlike anything I’ve ever read in YA and a narrative that definitely needs its space. Despite all the hardships and struggles, this was ultimately a book filled with happiness to the brim.
The writing is fairly simple and easy to follow, not wanting to take focus away from the core of the story, it serves as a vessel to transmit it and it does so very well. The only parts I had a problem with are the texts between Sara and her best friend. They read very cringey and unrealistic with overly abbreviated words and just overall not the kind of texting the teens today take part in. I found myself being thrown off everytime and unable to get used to it. Other than that, I enjoyed every single part of the book.
Belly Up starts with Sara’s break up with her on and off boyfriend which crushes her because she still loves him. Great ideas ensue and she ends up having a one night stand that results in a pregnancy. One thing I loved about the book (among many) is how unfiltered it is. We follow Sara from the moment she finds out to when she gives birth, and everything that comes in between like deciding she wants to keep the baby, telling her family and friends, etc… not just the events but also the emotional journey that’s attached to them, never glossing over anything.
We get the good and the bad, the rough and the easy but this book is ultimately a bubble of joy portraying teen pregnancy as an event that isn’t the end of the world and that with the right support system (which not everyone gets, and that’s acknowledged in the narrative), it doesn’t have to be a life shattering event and can be navigated well.
Sara is a swedish-spanish fat girl who is extremely funny (seriously, I found myself laughing out loud at times), quite sassy and opinionated. She has a shell around her but is incredibly attentionate and caring with people she lets in. Her narrating voice is very perky, which makes her so very easily likeable and approachable to the reader and I was no different, I found myself immensely enjoying my time reading from her perspective.
The romance is, in my opinion the highlight of this book. After switching schools, Sara finds herself quickly adopted by this group of three people mainly because of Leaf (her LI) who breaks the ice the first time he meets her and makes her feel somewhat welcome in an environment that’s hostile to her. Leaf is a Romani fat boy who’s asexual and loves cooking and is an ABSOLUTE sweetheart of a soft bear. He just wants to take care of Sara, and what better way to do that than to FEED her? I loved how organically their relationship developped, moving from friendship to romance slowly for reasons that come from both their sides, and also how once they got together, just how much respect they had for each other and how central of a role consent had.
Beside the romance, I thought that all the other relationships were extremely well done. The relationship dynamic between Sara, her mom and her grandma is amazing, they fight and make up but are ultimately extremely supportive of her and her rock through everything. Her friendships old and new are also amazing, her best friend is also an important part of her support system, she’s there for her through everything and I liked that Sara made an extra effort to include her in all her activities with her new friends which she met through Leaf. A girl and a non-binary person (they/them pronouns) who are also in a very cute relationship and embrace her into their group effortlessly.
Belly up just gave me all the soft happy feelings at a time when I needed them. Especially with that ending wrapped up as it was. GAAH!! It’s so good!
Note that I read an early version of this book, so things might have changed in the last draft.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Belly Up? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.