Summary and book reviews of Girls In Trouble by Caroline Leavitt

Girls In Trouble

By Caroline Leavitt

Girls In Trouble
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jan 2004,
    368 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2005,
    368 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The longings of first love. The intense emotions of open adoption. And the price of betrayal.

Sara is sixteen and pregnant. Her once-devoted boyfriend seems to have disappeared, and her only option seems to be an open adoption with George and Eva, an older couple desperate for a child. But after the birth, it's clear Sara has a bond with the child that Eva can't seem to duplicate. And when Sara can't let go, Eva and George make a drastic decision with devastating consequences for all of them.

Chapter One

Sara's pains are coming ten minutes apart now. Every time one comes, she jolts herself against the side of the car, trying to disappear. Everything outside is whizzing past her from the car window because Jack, her father, is speeding, something she's never seen him do before. Sara grips the armrest, her knuckles white. She presses her back against the seat and digs her feet onto the floor, as if any moment she will fly from the car. Stop, she wants to say. Slow down. Stop. But she can't form the words, can't make her mouth work properly. Can't do anything except wait in terror for the next pain. Jack hunches over the wheel, beeping his horn though there isn't much traffic. His face is reflected in the rearview mirror, but he doesn't look at her. Instead, he can't seem to keep himself from looking at Abby, Sara's mother, who is sitting in the back with Sara. His face is unreadable. He keeps pushing back his hair, thick and brown, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Abby makes a point of telling Sara what she calls "girls in trouble" stories about the awful times unmarried pregnant girls suffered in the 1950s. But who really are the "girls in trouble" in this book-and why?

  2. At one point in the novel, Sara drops off all the gifts she's bought and saved for Anne and leaves them, "like abandoned babies" at a church doorstep. She says this is a new script, one she's writing for herself. Anne, too, uses writing to reshape and understand her life. Why are stories--the ones we tell each other and the ones we tell ourselves--so important in this book? How are some of these stories misinterpreted?

  3. Why do you think Leavitt made Eva and George older parents? How does this figure into the themes ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse

   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (431 words).

Media Reviews
San Francisco Chronicle

The strengths of Girls In Trouble lie in the questions it raises about complicated love, both family and romantic.

Glamour Magazine

Given the hot topic of this novel--open adoptions gone wrong, you'd expect a finger-pointing, too PC-tone. But Leavitt's surprising take will get your book group really talking.

Carole Goldberg - The Hartford Courant

A piercing spin on the theme of Romeo and Juliet. Leavitt makes this story refreshingly new. There are no villains here, just believable people trying to make the best of a difficult situation and - children and adults alike - growing up and growing wiser.

Smoky Mountain News - Jeff Minick

Leavitt displays her considerable talents for insight into the human heart. Clear, crystalline style...we are in the presence of a writer who values words.

BookSense 76 Selection

The ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and pitfalls of open adoption. The reader will empathize with each point of view. The characters are well developed and likable, and the story is compelling.

The Celebrity Cafe

Emotionally charged story about first love, resentment, self discovery, family and forgiveness. Deeply touching, honest and memorable.

The Washington Post - Carrie Brown

The success of Girls in Trouble is that it is both a page-turner and also a canny portrait of the trouble perfectly ordinary people can get into while trying to satisfy their perfectly ordinary needs for love and security and happiness. The pleasure of this novel, our enjoyment of it, comes from Leavitt's wisdom about the deep chasm of misfortune, her exploration of misfortune's steep slope and her recognition that climbing out of misfortune's pit, step by arduous step, requires a heroism that literature, with its capacity for rendering the elevated quality of ordinary experience, can portray so beautifully.

Publishers Weekly

Leavitt's uneven but earnest eighth novel examines the emotional price a bright Massachusetts teen pays when she chooses open adoption for a baby she gives birth to at 16.

Kirkus Reviews

A sadly familiar tale by Leavitt, though ably written in a straightforward style likely to appeal to teenagers and their parents as well.

Booklist - Gillian Engberg

In this wrenching exploration of parent-child relationships, Leavitt captures the tensions and rhythms of family attachments--the unspoken language, the simmering resentments and sweet hopes, the blinding, protective love that can both damage and heal.

Library Journal - Nanci Milone Hill

This is a wonderful story of family relationships, the choices we make, and whom we can count on. Recommended for all public libraries.

Author Blurb Sandra Benitez — author of A Place Where the Sea Remembers and The Weight of All Things
A touching, heartfelt story showing that love can be a tangled journey

Author Blurb Gail Tsukiyama — author of Dreaming Water
The beauty of Caroline Leavitt's writing is in her flawless depiction of our human flaws. In Girls in Trouble, we ache for Sara, whose youthful decision will color the rest of her life--a poignant story of family and love, of what we lose, and sometimes, what we find again.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Strout — author of Amy and Isabelle
Heartfelt, filled with humanity, this story about the different forms of family bonds is a joy to read.

Author Blurb Kate Grenville — Orange Prize winning author of The Idea of Perfection
Kept me pinned to the page, swept along in an intense emotional journey with characters so real they seemed like friends. A beautifully written, moving and very wise book.

Author Blurb Laura Kasischke — author of The Life Before Her Eyes
Astonishing...there is a radiant joy that shines through it...a novel as rich and complex as it is meticulous.

Author Blurb Margot Livesey — author of Eva Moves the Furniture
What makes Caroline Leavitt's work so remarkable is her ability to conjure a whole range of disparate and difficult characters onto the page and to make us care deeply about each and all of them. Girls in Trouble is both utterly engrossing and richly satisfying.

Author Blurb Suzanne Beecher — Chapter-a-Day Bookclubs and Working Mother book columnist
Leavitt's heroine was pregnant at sixteen, and so was I....This book made me not only want to talk about what happened to me, but to claim it.

Author Blurb Abby Frucht — author of Polly's Ghost and Are You Mine?
Sara Rothman could be anybody's daughter...but her frank, warm, wise, gripping story, Girls in Trouble, could only be Caroline Leavitt's.

Reader Reviews
R. Jewel

I love a novel that teaches me something and Caroline Leavitt has let us inside a world most of us would never know about--open adoption. And I loved that Sara, the heroine who got pregnant as a teenager, was an honor's student from an upper middle...   Read More

S.L. B.

I see that I am the first to review this book so let me be careful in my words....this was not the greatest book ever written but it was good,very very good! Was it realistic? Probaly more than you think!
the characters were written very real not ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

According to TeenPregnancy.org...

  • Teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. declined nearly one-third between 1991 and 2000.
  • A congressional report estimates that, if the teen birth rate had not declined between 1991 and 2002, 460,000 additional children would be living in poverty and 1.2 million more children would have been born to teen mothers.
  • However, 820,000 teen girls still get pregnant in the USA each year.
  • 1 in 3 girls get pregnant at least once before the age of 20.
  • Approximately 4% of 15-19 year olds have had a baby.
  • 2 out of 3 teen mothers never finish high school. ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Girls In Trouble, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...
  • Book Jacket: Complicit
    Complicit
    by Stephanie Kuehn
    When seventeen year-old Jamie Henry receives word that his older sister Cate, is being released from...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  59Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O O T F P, Into T F

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.