Hanging on to Max by Margaret Bechard
ISBN-13: 978-0689862687
Simon Pulse, Ne York, 2003
176 p.

GENRE: Realistic Fiction

TEASER: Can Seventeen-year-old San juggle school and parenthood on his own?

SUMMARY: Seventeen-year-old Sam should be thinking about graduation and college. Instead, he is changing diapers and worrying about midnight feedings. His former girlfriend Brittany decides that she can’t handle parenthood she leaves. But Sam doesn’t want to give up Max. He tries to juggle fatherhood with school. He struggles to find the balance between being a teenager and being a parent. In the end, he might have to make some difficult decisions for the sake of his son.

CRITIQUE: The story is told in first person point of view through Sam’s character. There are periodic flashbacks to fill in the missing pieces of the story. I appreciated the lack of judgement in this book. It takes an honest look at what it’s like to be a teen parent with little support. He does get financial support from his father; however, her is angry with Sam’s decision and does not provide any emotional support or help care for Max. Sam envies Claire’s relationship with her family. He does have some support from his aunt and uncle.

I was a bit disappointed by the ending but it fit with the realism of the book. It felt a bit rushed but in thinking back, Sam’s life was being rushing into a very important decision. He struggled between being a teenager and trying to be a father. When he leaves Max with his aunt he says he feels empty and lost. He struggles with his identity and his responsibilities as a father. In the end, he knows that the right decision is the hardest one. No matter how much he wanted to try and keep Max, he eventually had to let him go.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Bechard is a an author and a teacher of young adult and children’s novels. She is a teacher at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches Writing for Children and Young Adults. Some of her other titles are If it Doesn’t Kill You, Spacer the Rat, My Mom Married the Principal, and Really No Big Deal.

Bechard was born in Chico, California, and is the youngest of six childrenShe lives in the suburbs of Portland with her husband and Barney, a Shetland sheepdog. They have three frown sons.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://www.margaretbechard.com/

READING LEVEL: 15+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some readers my have a problem with the topic of teen parenthood and mentions of sexual situations.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.

CURRICULUM TIES: Possibly Sexual Education

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Do you feel like the ending worked well for the novel? Do you think Sam made the right choice?

WHY INCLUDED: I included the novel because I love the fact that it’s the father who wants to keep the child and is assuming responsibility. This point of view is not dealt with often enough. There are teen responsible teen fathers out there and it is important for teens to be able to read about them.

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