Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Received From: Review copy from the author
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.
SEXUALITY: questioning, bisexual, demisexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: questioning, biromantic, demiromantic
TROPES: secret baby/surprise baby, one night stand ends in pregnancy
TAGS: young adult, contemporary, humor, coming of age, romance, queer romance, queer characters, biracial character, Spanish characters, Romani character, POC characters, fat character, ownvoices, queerplatonic relationship
WARNINGS: pregnancy, teen pregnancy, racism, slurs, gendered slurs, ableism, underage drinking, cissexism/trans exclusionary language, vomiting, abortion mention, cancer mention, rape mention, slutshaming, Holocaust mention, parental death mention, domestic violence mention, childbirth
She slid from my body with a bellow that matched my own. For that matter, that matched her mother and grandmother, too. They victory screeched like a team of conquering Valkyries when the next generation made her way into the world. They celebrated her arrival. They celebrated my bravery and the bravery of all people who share the ordeal of giving birth.
With BELLY UP, Eva Darrows delivers yet another important book that is told through humor, incredible relationships, and the strength of teenage girls.
BELLY UP tells the story of Sara Rodriguez, a 17 year old girl who gets pregnant after a drunken one night stand, who is suddenly thrust into adulthood and must face her new reality with the help of her mother, grandmother, and friends. The plot is developed over the course of her pregnancy and her senior year of high school, and it’s a tragic comedy of errors as she navigates doctor appointments, cravings, homework, and having a social life. Overall, the situation is treated with Darrows’ customary humor, but it’s also treated with attentive care. There are conversations about abortion and adoption, how becoming a mother will affect Sara’s educational prospects, how to navigate life as a single mother even as she receives all the support in the world from her loved ones, and so many other difficult situations that many teenagers don’t have to face, and Sara does this with a level of maturity that is enviable and admirable.
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the novel for me was the varied female characters and all of the great, different relationships that are found within the pages. There’s Sara, of course, who is laidback and easy going, but whose mentality is tested when she finds out she’s pregnant, and it’s really amazing to watch her grow page by page into someone even stronger and more courageous than who she was at the start. Astrid, Sara’s mother, is a lot like her and I enjoyed seeing the similarities between them, and the back-and-forth they’ve developed as single parent and child, which I found to be incredibly realistic and relatable as someone whose been in a moderately similar situation. Mormor, Sara’s grandma, is a fierce, unyielding, battle axe of a woman, and while she’s a pain in the butt a lot of the time, it’s clear that she really cares about Sara and Astrid and would do anything for them. Devi is Sara’s best friend and one of the people who is with her every step of the way, and I really admired the unending loyalty and support that she shows Sara. And one aspect I adored about all of these characters is the fact that they all allowed themselves to be vulnerable in different ways, at some point throughout the novel. They were also so real and such complex characters, and they felt like people that I could know in real life.
Also, the romance between Sara and Leaf was very enjoyable to read. There’s very little angst once they get past the pregnancy road bump (heh) at the beginning of their flirtation, and I very much enjoyed the fact that it was such an easy, steady relationship. Once they express their feelings for each other, it’s such an enviably easy ride for them as they navigate the changes in life together. Leaf is so supportive of Sara and does his best to take care of her and Cass, both before and after she’s born, and I loved the ways in which he was considerate of Sara and sensitive to her needs.
Darrows’ books are always so relatable and realistic that it’s so easy to get lost in them, and BELLY UP is no exception. It’s a fabulous read and I highly recommend it.
Eva Darrows is Hillary Monahan is also an international woman of mystery. Holed up in Massachusetts with three smelly basset hounds, she writes funny, creepy things for fun and profit.
Hillary Monahan’s YA debut MARY: The Summoning, a YA Horror retelling of the Bloody Mary myth, sold at auction to Hyperion and hit number two on the New York Times e-book bestseller list. MARY: Unleashed is out as of fall 2015. She’s also published THE AWESOME with Ravenstone under the name Eva Darrows, which received starred reviews in both Kirkus and PW.
Her next three publications are an adult horror novel in the GODS & MONSTERS series for Solaris, due out in December of 2016. Spring of 2017 will see the YA contemporary DEAD LITTLE MEAN GIRL under the name Eva Darrows published through Harlequin Teen. Fall of 2017 sees the YA horror THE WAGON WITCH’S APPRENTICE under Hillary Monahan through Delacorte/Random House.
Inquiries can be addressed to: hillaryjmonahan at gmail dot com