“The Jewel” by Penny Ward

This is definitely a worthwhile read. It’s short, easy to read and at the same time thought-provoking. For a first novel that’s pretty good!

“The Jewel” is the story of a teenage pregnancy and its repercussions on both families as well as the teenagers themselves. Adam is only 16 when his girlfriend Lucy discovers she is pregnant. They have to decide on what to do, and when and how to tell their respective families.

Chapters alternate among the various protagonists, which at first was a little off-putting to me as I find writers often fail to give distinct voices to their characters, a situation that leads to confusion on the part of the reader. Many times I’ve been reading not so well written novels using this device and had to return to the beginning of chapters to clarify who’s talking! I was pleasantly surprised to find that was not the case here – each person speaks with their own voice, very clearly and comes across as a real person.

Their reactions to the news that Lucy is pregnant are varied and surprising. Each character steps up, or doesn’t, in their own unique fashion. The book is short and so is the time frame, but the effects on these two families are huge. No-one will be the same again. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are no grisly murders or anything like that! This reads like real life, with normal activities like taking a bath and going to the fair taking center stage. I love it!

The only problem I had was that it seemed to me that the concluding paragraphs were spoken more in the author’s voice than in the character’s. It just seemed that a teenage boy wouldn’t have quite that mature a perspective on the situation. Granted, Adam would have grown a lot over the span of the couple of years covered in the novel, especially with all that he experienced. Still, it didn’t sound quite like an 18-year-old to me.

But, honestly, that’s really a minor issue. The author certainly had something additional to say, and putting the words in Adam’s mouth was not a bad choice.

If you ever wondered what it’s like to be a pregnant teenager, or the boyfriend of one, this is a must read. If you just want something new and fresh to read that won’t take forever or commit you to another long series, give this one try!

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