Because I judge a lot of books by their covers alone – it’s how I get my first impressions – I jumped at the chance to read and review this seemingly light-hearted contemporary.
Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.
Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.
Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she’s forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.
I say seemingly because this novel was far from light-hearted once I started reading it. Just like How to Love by Katie Cotugno – another YA about teenage pregnancy – Because I Love You is brimming with heavy drama especially around the second half, and that’s where the all the good stuff happens.
I honestly had low expectations for this novel because I already read this sort of story before. But I was surprised with the many insights and themes that I found in this novel that aren’t usually talked about in most YA.
The Importance of Family.
Family. I can’t count the number of books I’ve read where parents/parental figures are portrayed so poorly as if they were some last-minute addition to the cast or sometimes even, an antagonist. And I get why some authors do that because it’s needed for the development of the main character and so on. But how many books out there – YA, in particular – are family positive?
I loved the relationship between Andie and her Mom. Though most of the time they don’t see eye to eye in the book, there’s some tough love being expressed here. I especially love the moment where Andie revealed her pregnancy to her mom. It was just a heartbreaking and heart-mending scene.
“Why aren’t you punishing me?” I asked.
“Well you’re obviously grounded until further notice. But I think being pregnant at sixteen is punishment enough without me screaming at you.” She tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “And right now, I think you need your mommy more than ever. Am I right?”
More of these kind of relationships, please?
Teenage Pregnancy and Christian Themes.
I have to give huge props to Tori Rigby for excellently portraying teenage pregnancy in the 21st Century. Around the halfway mark, Andie is given the hard decision of keeping her baby and raising it herself or abortion. Now, I don’t want to elaborate much on my opinion but I am absolutely Anti-Abortion. Just thought I’d make this review a bit political.
Anyway, there was a real emotional and psychological struggle with Andie’s pregnancy. It was well-written and I loved how Rigby wrapped things up in the end (it’s a happy ending!).
Now onto another taboo subject: Christianity. I was surprised with the subtle Christian themes in this book. Andie and her family go to church regularly and her father was a preacher. I found it quite interesting considering this book is about teenage pregnancy and mix that with the Bible and blahblah condemnation and hell fire.
Aside: I just like to point out that Christians have varying views on this subject matter. I’m a Christian myself and I subscribe in the whole sex before marriage thing – because it’s my preference. Some Christians might say different things.
No – I’m not shaming anyone who engages in premarital sex. And no – I don’t condemn these people. But I do believe that everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial. And I love all people regardless of who they are and where they come from. End of aside.
Though I think Rigby wasn’t exactly selling religion here. It actually added up to Andie’s pregnant situation – the pressure of the people around you, doing the right thing.
Wait, what? There’s actually a love interest in this novel? Well, yeah and the romance is actually a huge chunk of this story.
Bad boy Neil Donaghue was a fantastic character. Though I don’t particularly like bad boys I liked how he has a lot of heart. He cared a lot for Andie when the father refused to support her pregnancy. And there were so many swoons and heart-eyed emojis.
I’m a bit sad though that there wasn’t like a central friend figure for Andie because her original best friends Heather and Carter – who is the father of her baby – left her out in the streets. Though there were some characters that were there for Andie, there wasn’t that one person who held your hand platonically all the way.
Lastly, I just want to commend Rigby for how well-realised she wrote the different kinds of love in Because I Love You. There’s familial love and romantic love and platonic love. It’s a complete love package with this book.
Overall, I really really really liked this book. It can be light and fluffy sometimes especially with the romance department but in entirety, this is a serious book about a serious subject that teenagers, such as myself, should seriously be aware about.
B+ – highly, recommend