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on 3 May 2014
Lizzie's Story is a very cleverly written book that explores teenage pregnancy in a number of ways. Looking at the options in front of her, Lizzie has to make a decision but she is surrounded by strong personalities and feels panicky and unsure about what to do.

The way the book is written allows us to see how different scenarios play out, and explore the choices and consequences that a young woman in Lizzie's position is faced with. It examines the many nuances in this situation, avoiding the 'easy' moralistic or paternalistic approach that many people leap to when thinking about young adults having unplanned pregnancies.

This would be a great read not only for teenagers, but parents of teenagers too. It's easy for adults to dismiss the degree of reasoning skills and emotional intelligence possessed by young people and this novel is a great reminder of just how mature many almost-adults are when they need to be! Lizzie has a huge decision to make, and in this book every possible outcome is identified and explored.
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on 23 June 2014
An essential criterion for any good book – as it is for any good poem – is that it should say something important about the human condition in a powerful way. 'Lizzie’s Story' does that from the beginning. I have rarely read an opening chapter so powerful and profound.

Lucy Hay has a sharp eye for telling detail and an almost pathological awareness of the discrepancy between human potential and actual achievement within the constricting contexts of family and social class. It hurts like Hamlet, and Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.

The action is intimately observed, each character scrupulously and minutely drawn. Lizzie tells this story in all its manifestations, and each time you are convinced it must be largely autobiographical with the kind of descriptive detail one associates with someone’s personal reality – e.g. “I could see all five of my sisters, their eyes wide, at least one of them delighted I had fallen from grace with such a bump.” I could quote a hundred more examples.

For all those reasons I was SO not ready for what happened 22% into the story. I won’t give it away, but it is extraordinarily effective. I saw that technique employed in a film once, but I don’t recall having come across it in a book. I think it works spectacularly well.

This is an important book about the human condition. It doesn’t run along the tramlines of a predictable genre, preferring instead to follow the urgings of Lucy Hay’s heart, her scrupulous and endearing honesty, her superb eye and very sharp ear. How many Lizzie’s can there be? Well one, of course, but layered, deep, analytical and sensitive to the nth degree.

“Lizzie’s Decision” should be required reading for all teens (Michael Gove take note!). It’s a very thought-provoking and deeply enjoyable read.
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on 17 March 2014
Keen to read more YA novels for research purposes, I was particularly intrigued by this one which has a really unique approach. It's described as being of interest to those who like the movie 'Sliding Doors' - in which the protagonist's day plays out in different ways using a split screen - and in this respect doesn't disappoint. Lizzie, the main character, plays out the same scenario - in which she discovers she is pregnant and has to decide what to do - multiple times, in different ways.

A mobile phone is the 'teleportation' device. When Lizzie's phone rings at the end of a scenario, she and the reader are thrust back to the same opening. Only Lizzie can't remember what came before. It's like the movie Groundhog Day for Lizzie, only in this instance it's the reader who is learning from the scenarios, which are steered by influences such as pressure, expectations and fear.

What makes this approach so thrilling is the fact that each outcome is so different. At first, you wonder how the scenarios could possibly work together as a whole to influence Lizzie's final decision if she can't remember each one she has been through. But as you progress through the novel, you come to realise that this isn't the point at all.

Each chapter/scenario subtlety reinforces the notion that you can't rely on anyone else but yourself to make such a big and personal decision. We empathise with Lizzie's feelings when she makes decisions - such as having an abortion or staying with an uninterested and abusive boyfriend - based on fear, uncertainty, pressure and expectations... But we also despair that she isn't able to take the time to cast these thoughts aside and really think about what SHE wants regardless of any future limitations.

I felt it was a shame that the adoption route wasn't explored in more of a positive light as an option, given that the other options such as abortion and taking on the pregnancy were explored from both angles. But Lizzie does make a good argument towards it and, at the end of the day, it is Lizzie that is the focus of this particular story. Lizzie herself, deep down, wants the baby. So this is the underlying question mark that is haunting her, the answer to which is merely obscured by those fears and expectations and prejudices standing in her way.

A particular line stays with me, where Lizzie's mum says that she's a clever girl; she knows the options and only she can decide. This is the key message that comes through really quite powerfully by the end of the book. It doesn't matter what Lizzie's choice is in the end; only that it is right for HER.

With this in mind, the novel is also a bit like the choose your own adventure books for the reader, but in a format that allows you to see every adventure one after the other and to choose at the end which route you would have chosen "if it was you".

Lizzie's story is personal to her, but the experiences she goes through are useful for everyone, particularly the young readers at which the novel is aimed.

For me, an 'older' (28) adult-ish reader, the novel isn't the type I would usually go for. Regarding the topic, I am already aware of the options and "if it were me" my circumstances would be different on account of age and personal situation.

However, I was still able to empathise with the confusing and conflicting emotions Lizzie was feeling and the structure of the novel - with the phone teleportation and curiousness over how Lizzie copes in each scenario - kept up my interest.

This novel both educates about options that might not be known to teens, but also explores the important notion of self respect and independence of choice regardless of any barriers that are perceived or forcefully thrown upon them. This is emphasised throughout the novel, building more powerfully towards the end.

Furthermore, the "hindsight" insights, such as how best friends don't always remain so, illuminate further the need to trust your own judgement and not to be swayed by anything or anyone else. A valuable lesson for anyone of any age.

A must read for teens and parents, as well as anyone else who appreciates a meaningful tale presented in a unique way.
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on 7 April 2014
Lizzie’s Story is a well-crafted and hard hitting slice of real life, as direct and as three dimensional as your own family. It forensically examines the excruciating dilemma of an unplanned pregnancy for a young girl caught in that hazy stage between childhood and adulthood with all its attendant passions and confusion. In tone it reads like a role reversal of Stan Barstow’s 60’s classic “A Kind of loving”. It also vividly illustrates the claustrophobia of a world of make do and mend in the 21st century. It wears its politics lightly and comes with a twist of acid humour. A novel and interesting look at a very real modern dilemma. Recommended.
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on 25 May 2014
This author is thoughtful and insightful,the book is a must read for teens and Mums.It broaches a difficult subject with sensitivity and clarity,and deals with all aspects of teen pregnancy without bias,giving the reader much to think about and lends itself to further discussion.This is a very interesting book,well written and the subject matter is very important for young people to think about..I would recommend this book very highly.
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on 1 September 2015
Lizzie is in her late teens and is set to go off to University when to her horror she discovers that she is pregnant. At first she is stunned and has no idea what to do about it. Her boyfriend doesn’t seem to want to know, her mother had a teenage pregnancy herself, and her father flits in and out of her life and evades responsibility.

A teenage pregnancy is a situation Lucy V Hay has been in herself in the past, and she writes with true feeling of the emotions and thoughts that her character Lizzie undergoes on first finding out she is having a baby.

Lucy V Hay cleverly writes five different scenarios which blend in seamlessly with each other, and all help to lead Lizzie to her eventual decision. Each one gives a different outcome on the problem which many teenage girls unfortunately find themselves in. In fact I would definitely say that any young girl newly pregnant would do well to read this book in order for her to make an informed decision about her future.
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on 19 March 2014
OK, so I'll admit, not my usual fare but this was a really neat idea and well executed.... Loved the characters and if I had a teenage daughter, I'd be madly encouraging her to read this book without delay. Felt fresh, real and very honest.

And for a lifelong Judy Blume geek such as myself, it was totally convincing. Great stuff!
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on 17 June 2014
Great to read a book about teenage pregnancy which considers the whole story; the different choices, the people around you, and the continued path your life may lead, acknowledging that teenage pregnancy is not the end of your life, but can be the beginning of a new one. Through challenging the assumption that young people are unable to make such important decisions themselves, each scenario puts you in the mind of someone struggling to find her own voice and ultimately seeking those who will offer support rather than judgement. This provides a valuable insight into how to support young people and respect their decisions.

Recommended to anyone is a young person, knows a young person, or simply lives in a world with young people!
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on 7 June 2014
Wow! Writing a book on a topic such as teen pregnancy means that an author has to tread a fine line between being lackadaisical and preaching.

This book does neither - it follows Lizzie's life immediately after she finds out something that will change her life forever. It does not preach, yet it does not gloss over everything. The balance is spot on.

Excellent characterisation and descriptions that make the reader want to turn page after page mean this is an excellent book for the YA audience.
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on 24 February 2015
I think that every teenager needs to read this book. It is a great non-judgemental, pragmatic look at the many options that a pregnant teenage girl may face. The book ponders all the various decisions and really makes you realise the thoughts and feelings that must go through a teenager’s head if she gets pregnant and the possible consequence of each choice. It is well written and a great story, but also has the ability to teach young girls the consequences of unprotected sex. It would also make a powerful tool for teachers and parents to use when talking to young girls about such matters. I loved it.
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