Oh, I had such high hopes for this book! de Gramont's Gossip of the Starlings received a lot of press, and I was excited to see that Every Little Thing in the World was a YA book by this author.
Sydney and Natalia are sixteen year olds sent away for the summer because of a string of bad behavior on their parts. For six weeks they are taking part in a wilderness camp in Canada that will remove them from some of the bad influences they have in their hometown. Sydney also has a secret: she is pregnant, the result of a hook-up with a boy she is not really that interested in. Natalia has also just discovered that her parents are really her grandparents. Her mother, Margit, was a teenager when she had Natalia, and so the two girls were raised as sisters.
There are a few things I enjoyed about this story: the wilderness survival aspect was interesting, as were the cast of characters the girls came to know during their time at camp. Both girls learned about themselves during their time away. Sydney's voice felt authentic, and her lack of addressing her pregnancy is something I can see many teenagers acting out themselves. She has a hard time even believing she is pregnant initially, and from time to time contemplates her options, often forced into thinking about these things by Natalia. Natalia is going through her own trauma after discovering her sister is really her mother, and is preparing for seeing Margit for a visit, full of questions about what led her to have a baby and then give her to her parents to raise.
However, I was very disappointed with the end of this novel and the choices Sydney made as well as her mother's part in things. Which ultimately means, I was very disappointed with de Gramont. Last night after I finished the book I was very angry about this book. After a good night's sleep, I don't think anger is the right word anymore. I feel let down. I didn't love this book at all, even halfway through, but I stuck with it. And for what?
After reading the reviews on Amazon, I can see I am in the minority with my feelings on this one. Other readers gushed about it. Not a single review commented on the issue of abortion that comes up at the end of this novel. Maybe no one else thought it odd that de Gramont presents abortion as the only option, an easy solution, and certainly obvious. Maybe no one else thought it inappropriate that Sydney's mom thought this was fine, did not offer any other solutions, did not suggest counseling to her daughter before or after this, and did not ask who the father was or if he knew. While writers certainly have the freedom to write what they want, I can't help but feel that as a young adult author, there should be some sort of responsibility a writer feels for creating characters that teens can relate to and gain some insight from.
I have tried to imagine what I would have thought about reading this as a teen and just can't quite come up with much. I don't believe in censorship, and I am sure this book will have an audience. But as an adult, I just can't quite appreciate this one very much.