Book Club, and Expecting is in Print Now!

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Writing a book is a privilege; sharing it with others, for me, is a necessary pain, the end of a process, the final death, and also the beginning of promoting this thing I’ve already spent nearly two years wringing my … Continue reading

Expecting: a novel, excerpted

Below is an excerpt from Expecting, available now in ebook form, in print in a week:

***

After telling my parents back in June about my pregnancy, and after the stuff with the police calmed down, I was barely showing. By August, there was a little bump you could see if you were looking for it, but it was nothing a baggy sweatshirt couldn’t cover up. It took awhile for me to realize that Map was really serious about not letting me have an abortion, and as my first trimester came to a close, the reality of it all settled in. Map came into my room one day in mid- August, interrupting my afternoon nap.

“Sheila, dear, wake up, sweetie. We need to get up to Target today and get your materials together. School starts next week.”

 At first, in my half-asleep state, her voice becomes part of the dream I’m having about eating ice cream, and it takes me a full minute to wake up and respond, “Um, Map, I kind of assumed I’d be staying home. Being prego and fourteen and in high school just doesn’t seem like a good combo.”

“I spoke to the administration about it last month, and they’re willing to make an exception for you as long as you don’t tell anyone, because I’m an employee. Also, your father offered to make a sizable donation for the new gym fund this year.”

What the shit? “What do you mean, Map? That’s nice of them to make an exception and all, but are you all asking me to lie about being pregnant? What am I supposed to do when I’m changing for gym? A baby belly doesn’t lie, Map.”

“It’s covered: they’ll excuse you from gym class once you’re starting to show too much–just tell everyone you’ve got asthma.”

 This is nuts. “Then what? What happens when I actually have the baby in February? What then?”

“We’ll just tell everyone it’s mine. I’ve committed to gaining a little weight right along with you, so I’ll look a little pregnant.”

“Are you also planning on wearing a prosthetic belly, Map? What is wrong with you–this is craziness!” Map is bat shit. And I can’t believe Dad just bribed my way in to being prego in Catholic school.

“Sheila, trust me. You just need to play along with this and it’ll be over before you know it. Of course, some people will know, but if you just don’t talk about it, they can’t confirm it, and you won’t be accused of setting any kind of example. And this way, you won’t fall behind in your studies; you’ll stay academically competitive and be able to go to college with your own age group. If you miss a year of high school, it’s pretty hard to make up. And don’t think you’re the only pregnant girl to go to Catholic school–the key is just to not talk about it. It’s like: don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“Map, did you really just say that? I’m not doing it. No way. Keeping this baby is your idea, so you should homeschool me this year.” I let out a big sigh, and start to get up out of bed because I have to go pee.

“If you go along with the plan, your father and I will buy you a new car for your sixteenth birthday.”

I stop. A new car ups the ante: I imagine my sixteen-year-old self speeding down the highway in my brand new red convertible with the top down. The wind is in my hair, James is sitting next to me with his hand on my knee, and neither of us have a care in the world. “Okay, I”ll do it, but it has to be a convertible.” I think I just sold my soul. 

***

Thanks for visiting,

Lula belle

Rick Santorum: Really? REALLY?

Here is the Huffington post reporting on Rick Santorum’s interview with Piers Morgan last Friday:

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum explained his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape during an interview Friday, saying that women who face such circumstances should “make the best out of a bad situation.”

Asked by CNN’s Piers Morgan what he would do if his own daughter approached him, begging for an abortion after having been raped, Santorum explained that he would counsel her to “accept this horribly created” baby, because it was still a gift from God, even if given in a “broken” way.

When I sat down to start working on my novel, Expecting, back in late 2010, I was reacting to what was happening in America in regards to reproductive rights. I was reading articles and tracking the slow, consistent march toward restricting, or taking away, women’s access to reproductive care and preventive medicine. The New York Times printed a map, created by NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, tracking the number of “governors who are considered solidly anti-abortion” and you can see it for yourself here:

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/01/22/us/22abortion_graphic.html?ref=politics

In the early months of writing the first draft of Expecting, I was chagrined many times by my little book project about a pregnant-from-rape teenager, thinking I was overreacting, or being oversensitive, or second-guessing myself because it could never happen in this country — right? We Americans would never think of voting against a woman’s right to choose, or allow the overturn of Roe v. Wade, because Americans must remember what it was like for women’s health before Roe came along back in 1973, right? But that’s just it: some of us don’t remember life before Roe v. Wade (myself included, because I wasn’t born yet) and that is the problem. The problem is that some of us have forgotten, and some of us just don’t know.

In the recent past, if a woman asked her doctor for some birth control, the doctor might call the woman’s husband and ask his permission. A big family may not have been desired by your grandmother or your great-grandmother. Illegal abortions killed women, illegal abortions sometimes resulted in rape, and illegal abortions landed women in jail. Women have been “making the best of a bad situation” for a long time, and somewhere along the way, in the late ’60’s, some men and women came up with a way to make a bad situation better. After reading a book by Laura Kaplan called The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service, I learned that some of the biggest supporters and facilitators of illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade were clergymen. Also, a quick search on Guttmacher.org reveals that abortion numbers are highest in countries where birth control and abortions are severely restricted, and abortion numbers are lowest in countries where abortion policy is liberal. Pregnancy from rape happens in about 1% of rapes, and most abortions in America are had by married women who already have children.