I stood reading The Pregnancy Project in Barnes and Noble one day a few months ago. I saw it at the library and had to check it out.
A brief summary: Gaby Rodriguez is from Toppenish, WA, where she is the eighth child born to a single mother who had her first child at the age of 14. After her 7 brothers and sisters all became teen moms and dads, her family and the community around them constantly warned Gaby to be careful because she would be the next teen mom. Gaby refused to give into the stereotypes, and decided to do a senior project in which she would fake her pregnancy and judge the reactions of people. She wanted to see how the school’s faculty and staff, her family members, and other community members would react when she told them she would be a teen mom. Throughout the six months of her fake pregnancy, she wanted to see for herself what her brothers and sisters went through as teen parents, what other teen moms go through, and how it felt to become just another statistic. She ended her project by giving a speech at a school assembly about how teens should not give into stereotypes, not to become a statistic, and to live their life for them, not for anyone else. She talked about the harsh comments she was given as a pregnant teen and how they also gave into the stereotypes about teen moms. Her story made national news, became a movie, and a book.
*Disclaimer: I loved the premise of her senior project. It was brilliant. And as an intelligent young teen she pulled it off in a way that showed how passionate she is about stereotypes. Gaby Rodriguez is definitely not your average teenager. So this is absolutely not a review on her project or experience. It is a review on the book as well as the movie.
While I understand the book is geared toward young adults, but I felt the writing style was a bit sophomoric compared to how intelligent and mature Gaby seemed to be. It was as if the writing style didn’t equal with her intelligence.
The book was divided up into three parts: Family Background, Devising and Carrying out the Project, and Reactions Afterward.
I so enjoyed reading about Gaby’s background; about the community she was raised in, the members of her family, what it was like for her mother, and so on. It was interesting to read an account into family dynamics from a shrewd, observant member of the family. As someone who group in a completely different state with almost contrary family dynamics myself, I liked the eye-opening experience I got from reading the book.
Of all the parts of the book, the section on the project itself was the shortest part of the whole book, and the part I found the most interesting. I would’ve liked more details on what went on. The entire project process seemed like it was simply glossed over without going into nearly as much detail of her emotional state as she did when talking about her childhood. And as far as the third part went, besides wanting to know how her school, family, and immediate community reacted, I could have cared less about how she went on The Today Show, or had interviews with all the local TV stations–I wasn’t interested and skimmed most of the last section. I would’ve rather liked to know more about her ongoing emotional state after she completed the project and how what she learned throughout helped shape her as an individual.
After I finished reading the book (it was a quick, afternoon read) I immediately watched the movie. This Lifetime movie stars Alex Vega as Gaby Rodriguez and is, of course, based on the book.
I liked that the movie mostly covered the pregnancy project itself, what the book didn’t go into. However I was semi-outraged at the depiction of Gaby’s life. In the book she makes herself and the community out to be poor–she wears 3-year-old shoes and her mom’s car constantly breaks down. Although thanks to costume directors and set designers, the movie made Gaby look like she could be any one of us–which may have been the point–but when she details (in the book) on how she overcame so many different odds to get to where she is, and the movie portrays her as being the opposite, it lost credibility with me. (And they renamed Gaby’s boyfriend, Jorge. They pronounced it George. I was like, WHAAAT?????) Although, it’s Lifetime, so I wasn’t expecting much.
All in all, I thought it a very interesting story, and would love to meet this girl and see where she’s at in her life now.