High school senior Gaby Rodriguez had been told all her life that she was destined to become a teen mom. Everyone in her immediate family was a teen parent, meaning all 7 siblings and her own mom. Despite hearing this fate at every turn, Gaby grew up determined to beat the odds, and by the time she was in high school, she was annoyed about all the negative messages she heard to do something about it. So for her senior project, she decided to fake being pregnant, record reactions from her family and peers (through her own observations as well as those of her boyfriend, best friend, and mother, who were in on the secret), and present her findings at an all-school assembly. The project went off better than she could have imagined, resulting in immediately being hounded by reporters from her town’s paper to Good Morning America, and a book and movie deal.
I read this on the recommendation of the teen librarian at my library, who added the caveat that she read it when it first came out (2011) and remembered mostly being annoyed at how preachy Gaby seemed at times. She sounded a little preachy to me, but overall I could see the throughline of her core argument at all times, which is that teens get all sorts of messages based on their backgrounds that end up being part of a self-fulfilling prophecy, so everyone (teachers, families, peers) needs to watch especially the negative messages they give teens. The fear that supporting a pregnant teen will somehow send the message that it’s okay or even good to get pregnant young, but it’s clear that negative messages to pregnant teens does nothing to break the cycle and actually make it worse because they end up having a much harder life than they need to, putting their own kids at more risk of making the same mistakes. Overall, a hugely interesting social experiment with impressive results. Gaby talks a lot about how she underestimated the emotional impact on her and her boyfriend of being shunned and gossiped about, even when they knew it wasn’t true.