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The Girl Who Couldn't Say No

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  966 ratings  ·  123 reviews
“A sharp, occasionally shocking, memoir that will change how you look at young, single mothers, The Girl Who Couldn’t Say No is also an amusing look at dating as a single twenty-something with a teenager and a toddler.

Told with frank South African humour and refreshingly mature insight, Tracy Engelbrecht tells the story of how she came to find herself pregnant at 15 … and
ebook, 216 pages
Published May 2011 (first published September 30th 2007)
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Average rating 3.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  966 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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Nadine Larter
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Don’t laugh, but “randomly” meeting Tracy Engelbrecht (online – because where else do we meet people these days?) was some sort of Universal show of synchronicity. The Universe likes to do this to me.

Let me explain:

About six or seven years ago (holy crap I’m getting old!) I started writing a book about a pregnant teenager. I was hardly past being a teenager myself at that stage, but I just couldn’t do it. I had never been pregnant. And I therefore had no idea what I was talking about. I needed t
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I did wonder what I was letting myself in for with this book. I very rarely read memoirs or autobiographies and was concerned that being childless, married and in my fifties would mean I would have difficulty identifying with Tracy or caring about her life. My concerns were groundless. By page two I was hooked. Tracy's description of Maria reminded of the girl in one of the Haribo adverts and that always makes me smile. I recognised the voices that live in Tracy's head, the sensible voice and th ...more
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Tracy finds out that she's pregnant at 14. But she's a Good Girl! These things don't happen to Good Girls! Yet she never makes excuses for having gotten pregnant at such a young age. She had sex, she got pregnant, end of story. Quite refreshing, really, in an age where folks seem to spend quite a bit of time blaming everyone and everything else for their own choices. At any rate, this memoir covers her pregnancy, from finding out she is indeed pregnant to telling her parents, up to the birth and ...more
Jun 29, 2008 rated it liked it
I loved the honesty and the unexpected story of a 14/15 year old girl, who turned out to be wise enough to make what could have been a disaster into something magical and transformative.

The tone is both defensive and open, full of quirky humour. The book made me appreciate what I have got and a little kick in the psychic butt to make the best of things.

I look forward to Tracy's next book!

Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Engelbrecht was fourteen when she got pregnant, fifteen when she gave birth. Until then she'd been a typical 'good girl', but pregnancy positioned her, in the eyes of many, as a 'girl who couldn't say no'. But she opted to continue with her pregnancy, ignore those who doubted her, and raise her child (and, several years later, another child from another doomed relationship).

On a (pre-pregnancy) discussion of teenage pregnancy with her friends: The consensus was that our boyfriends would dump us,
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-keepers
Some life events are pretty much universal... falling in love, getting married... and becoming a teenage mom. It happens all the time, except what sets apart each event is when you have a writer voice something like Tracy's.

And still, as distinctive as Tracy's voice was, it took getting past the pregnancy test before her voice grew on me. I related very well to many, if not all of her experiences... the moods, grown-ups who encounter young girls in this 'situation', and other 'condiments' that g
April (The Steadfast Reader)
Dec 14, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO ONE
Shelves: blogged, memiors
As Comic-Book Guy from 'The Simpsons' might say, Worst. Book. Ever. Okay, maybe not EVER but it's pretty awful. And I'm never getting that time back. I'm not a single mother - but I did have an unplanned child at an inopportune time.

The woman may have been 27/28 when the book was published, but it sounds like it comes straight from the diaries of well, a fifteen year old. Good concept, important subject matter, TERRIBLY executed.

Through the blood, tears, sweat, and what sounds like the massive
Danie Cutter
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book was received as part of First Reads, will post a review when read... watch this space.

I really enjoyed this book, it's a frank but readable account of a mother learning to be a mother. It doesn't matter particularly that Tracy is a teenage mum as the "bowing to those with some semblance of authority" was exactly the way I felt when first becoming a mum (at twice Tracy's age!) Mums (and maybe Dads if they're inclined to read a "girlie book") will identify with almost everything,
Feb 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I enjoyed this Kindle book about the life of a girl who got pregnant at 14, but I would have liked it to go a little deeper into how she really felt and how people responded to her. The early part, about her life as a "normal" teenager and the shock of discovering she was pregnant, was really interesting but then she kind of went from the early baby days to toddlerdom in about three pages. The section sbout finding a nursery was an eye opener but then there was a lot of boring stuff about work a ...more
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a great book for any teen mom or just any new mother. It shows the struggles and emotions as you raise your child. No matter what age you'll always struggle and worry about that bundle of joy. I read how hard it was for Tracy at 15 to be a mother. But she knew that every mother no matter who you are goes through the same things as she did. I read how much she cared for her child and how she tried her best to raise Steven even though she was only 15. For a 15 year old I can say Tracy did ...more
Mary Shannon
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 2011
I got this book from Goodreads giveaways.

I liked this book. Ms. Engelbrecht has a unique voice that carries you throughout her life. She is honest and funny. For the readers from the United States, you may not get some of her references. I found myself curious on a number of occasions as to who she was talking about or what that reference meant. But this is a book based in South Africa and it remains true to its origins.
Oct 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
The first half was a really interesting look into teen pregnancy - honest, funny, and insightful (though there is a lot of language). Unfortunately, the second half devolved into a spiteful critique of, it seemed, EVERYONE, and was so much poorer than the initial chapters. Would not recommend.
Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick, fun read. I loved Tracy's 'voice' and it kept me well entertained through the entire book. ...more
Misty Robinson
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The other girl who couldn't say no!

I related to this book in so many ways! In 1996, I too became a mother at the age of 15! In 2005, I too also had my second child at the age of 23! Neither time did I marry the baby's father. My life is like a mirror image to Tracy Engelbrecht! I felt every emotion with Tracy, as I read this book! Most girls that become pregnant at that age have no idea what to do and they're not supposed to I guess. But like Tracy, becoming a mom at 15 changed my life for the b
Jeni Wilson
Apr 10, 2021 rated it it was ok
Some funny moments but overall not all that interesting. This is the story of a 14 yo that gets pregnant and her life up until she turns 27. She tries to make it sound like her life was hard and "woeful" but really she's pretty supported and didn't have any of the struggles that a lot of teen moms have to deal with. She actually made her life seem pretty glossy and cush. Story for some but not for me. ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This is not the detailed account of your average teenage mom. Well written with self-deprecating humor, this was really a lovely story of how sometimes getting the cart before the horse is precisely what is needed.
Jenny Wood
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved her honest and hilarious approach to telling her story!
Lorraine Calvert
Brilliant story and totally gets the struggles of being a mum

True to life whether you are a young mum or not so young mum. Recommend this to anyone who is a mum
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I expected this to be a semi-preachy book with some humour. A ‘beware this bad life choice’ sort of autobiography. It was a spur of the moment reading choice. It turned out to be a relaxing read, written in a friendly conversational tone with just enough humour to make you smile and take the edge of what could have been a very dry story.

I think the title is slightly misleading. I imagined a people pleaser or submissive personality, and while Tracy admits she finds it difficult to stand up for h
Giddy Girlie
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
I liked it, but it was just okay.

The tone of the book was very "bloggy" for lack of a better word. It was chock full of side-stories and rambling and while it wasn't bad, it was sometimes hard to pick up the thread again after being off on a tangent for a few pages. Mostly this had to do with the author re-assuring the reader repeatedly that she is/was a GOOD GIRL, meaning that she wasn't promiscuous (and didn't want to be) when she found herself pregnant at 14. Which is all well and good, mista
Lynda Kelly
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now this shouldn't be a book I'd be very interested in only having dog(s) and no kids and preferring life that way but I really enjoyed it. I downloaded it over a year ago now and kept putting it off as I was at a bit of a loss as to why I did, to be honest ! Now I want to read a sequel but perhaps in a decade. That would be good.
Her parents, especially her mum were terrific and it was splendid the support they've always given her after their initial blowup ! And who would blame them, especially
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
Got this book for free on my Kindle, the plot intrigued me so I thought why not? The book is fairly short so it makes for easy reading, in addition to this it’s sort of in diary form. Well, flashbacks really which also helps to read it in one sitting.

The book follows the author from finding out she was pregnant at 14 to where she is now. Now, I thought the story would go from her meeting David and their relationship then her getting pregnant and so on. Like in a consecutive sequence kinda thing,
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
I wasn't sure what I was getting into with this book. Being a childless woman in her mid-twenties, I wasn't sure how I would relate to a book about Tracy, who found out she was going to be a mom when she was fourteen. I figured it would just be another whiny tale about men's trickery and the woes of being a teenage mom. I was dead wrong.

After finding out that she's pregnant, Tracy just accepts the fact and moves on from there. With very little whining (aside from that caused by hormones), Tracy
Oct 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tracy got pregnant at 15. As with all teenage mothers, she struggled through all the hardships motherhood brings with it. This is her story of how she got through it and more.

Engelbrecht's humor and wit drew me into the book. I loved her wit and her sense of humor. There was, also, quite a bit of profanity in the book but it all belonged there. That was Tracy's personality and it gave you a real sense of her. As a mother, I found her insight on motherhood hilarious. I laughed out loud on several
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was free on Kindle when I downloaded it in mid-December – although looking today it is now £2.60.

This is South African Tracy’s own story of how she came to be a teenage mum after falling pregnant at the tender age of 15. She was a Good Girl though, so how could this happen?

With Tracy now 28, this is written just how you could imagine a friend telling you about their past. It’s extremely easy to read, witty, often self-deprecating and tells the story of a smart, likeable girl who made w
Lady Joyful
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Girl Who Couldn't Say No is not presented as a cautionary tale on the horrors of teenage motherhood, nor is it an attempt to make teenage motherhood seem a glamourous and appealing option. With a refreshing mix of honesty and humour the author does not attempt to make excuses, rather she gives an authentic account of the ups and downs that come with juggling pregnancy and motherhood with studying and working.
The book starts with fourteen year old Tracy finding out she is pregnant. Much of t
Even though teen pregnancy is not a light subject, this was a fun, light read. I loved reading about Tracy's adventure into motherhood and pregnancy starting at 14-years-old. As someone who experienced teenage pregnancy and motherhood, I have to say, it's about time! Yes, I understand that it is not the ideal situation and I would never encourage anyone to try it out, but it doesn't have to be a death of your hopes and dream, it can be beautiful. Tracy was very candid with her life and I have to ...more
Oct 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Tracy Engelbrecht could have written this book as a how-to to raising a child as a teen-age mother. The nice thing about this book is, she didn't! She uses wit and charm to captivate readers into turning one page after another. Her sincere concurrence to making bad mistakes makes Engelbrecht so real, so likable.

It's not a book you read for deep philosophical thought, no. However, I'll admit, Engelbrecht goes into quite a few literary tangents that surprised me--She's funny AND smart!

I'll admit,
Oct 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a soon-to-be first time mom, I enjoyed Tracy's bluntness and sense of humor throughout The Girl Who Couldn't Say No. Tracy addressed many of the fears I have about becoming a mom, and seeing that she tackled them head on at only 15 helps me have a bit more confidence in myself.

There is some heavy language in the book, but it is clearly a reflection of Tracy's personality and adds to the story, so it shouldn't be taken with great offense. Tracy repeatedly expresses her frustrations with "relig
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
There were parts in this book that I didn't like, however, have been there done that, there were more parts in this book that I loved. Talking about the mistake that Tracy made with the nipple on the bottle (Smaller holes for milk, compared to the bigger "X" shaped holes for thicker liquids...also for older babies) I have made that mistake. Being a teen mother myself, I know that I had a lot of the same thoughts running through my head. Am I going to be good enough to raise my child. It is lovel ...more
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Tracy Engelbrecht is a writer and mother of two. She lives in Cape Town and doesn’t grow freakishly large prizewinning vegetables, but she does do a nice lasagne and her children aren’t in therapy yet, so things are going well. She hardly ever drinks pina coladas or gets caught in the rain, but she’s working on it.

That’s the official story. The truth is, of course, much less exciting.

I was once Th

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