Aftercare Instruction by Bonnie Pipkin
Published by Flatiron books
Genres: young adult, contemporary
In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen’s decision to end an unwanted pregnancy
“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.
As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.
This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.
I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Aftercare Instructions is an increasingly relevant read that spotlights some hard-hitting topics. Although I wouldn’t necessarily be comparing it with Rainbow Rowell and Jandy Nelson’s works, as I felt like it had the potential to pack a greater punch than it did.
The premise of Aftercare Instructions is exceptional, teenage abortion is a sensitive topic and it takes a lot to be able to pull it off and this is the first young adult book I have read that deals with abortion. Pipkin explored the ins and outs of abortion is an excellent manner, as well as delving into the topics of sex, family, relationships and suicide. Despite this books length there were an abundance of relevant topics discussed and this book had the ability to really hit home. However, I felt like Aftercare Instructions failed in that respect, maybe it’s just me, but I felt as if I couldn’t relate to the characters or the story, it didn’t affect me as much as I was hoping to. I felt like the message could’ve been more powerful than it ended up being. Nonetheless, the narrative was intriguing and I sped through the book in two days, I also loved how the flashbacks were written as if they were scenes from a play, this aspect added uniqueness to the story.
The characters weren’t as compelling as I’d originally hoped they’d be, and I felt like they lacked a sense of depth. Maybe it was just how immature they seemed, especially Gen, she was doing a lot of things that she knew she shouldn’t do, getting herself in trouble more often than not. However, I think a lot of Gen’s actions can be excused due to her unconventional family situation. Rose was a supportive best friend, I liked how she was constantly on the lookout for Gen and how she always had her best interests in mind. Seth was an adorable character and I liked how he treated Gen.
Overall, Aftercare Instructions was an enjoyable read but it didn’t end up packing the punch I was hoping for. It was a quick, pleasant read that dealt with important topics, the characters weren’t considerably memorable. This book juts didn’t hit home for me, unfortunately.