Stephanie Parent's Reviews > At What Cost

At What Cost by J.  Andersen
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Oct 30, 12


“Time flies when you’re pregnant and hiding it.”

For sixteen-year-old Maggie Reynolds, an unexpected pregnancy quickly spirals out of control…and as readers follow Maggie along her journey, we experience all of her emotions, from fear to anxiety, confusion to regret, and even some unexpected hope, right along with her.

I was drawn into At What Cost from the very first pages, as J. Andesen’s clear, fast-paced, evocative third-person narration pulled me right into the story and Maggie’s life. I could easily imagine myself in Maggie’s situation, doing everything I could to deny and hide my condition because I just wasn’t ready to deal with it, but at the same time my worry grew with each day that Maggie kept her pregnancy hidden. The author did a great job of crafting physical, visceral descriptions of Maggie’s anxiety (exacerbated by the symptoms of pregnancy, of course); reading this book, I felt like I was right back in high school myself, nervous stomachache and all!

One of my favorite aspects of the book was the way family relationships and friendships were portrayed. At first, when Maggie seemed unable to find support no matter where she turned, my heart broke for her; however, I was surprised and pleased by the way her friendships and family relationships continue to develop throughout the novel. I especially liked Maggie’s relationship with her aunt, and I appreciate a YA novel that devotes as much time and character development to the adult characters as the teenage ones. After all, adults play a huge role in all teens’ lives, in both positive and negative ways.

I also have to mention that the abortion clinic scenes in this novel were absolutely harrowing; it takes a brave author to tackle this topic in such a gritty, no-holds-barred way. While these sections were hard to read, they were absolutely essential to Maggie’s journey, and if I had ever been faced with a similar decision as a teen, I would have wanted to read an honest account like this one. I appreciated the emphasis the author placed on Maggie making her own decision, and that the author’s note included resources for both pregnant teens and teens dealing with the aftereffects of abortion.

Finally, I have to mention how much I appreciated the book’s open ending. Even though Maggie’s newly strengthened relationships leave us with hope, there’s still a lot of uncertainty in her future, and the book doesn’t sugarcoat that.

Overall, I think the best word to describe At What Cost is real. This is an important book that will speak to both teenage and adult, male and female readers, and I would say in particular that it’s a book every teenage girl should read.
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