Cover Image: Belly Up

Belly Up

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"My mom had given me all the talks. I'd just been reckless, played sperm roulette, and lost.

Top of her class with monster SAT scores, Sara thought she was destined for the Ivy League. However, after a rebound-one-night-stand, she found her plans needed to be altered to accommodate her new impending bundle of joy. 

If you asked me what my first impression of this book was, I would immediately tell you it was funny. Sara and the other two Larsson women shared an acerbic wit, which consistently made me chuckle. From the comebacks to the endless list of names used to refer to her unborn child, I was almost always amused. Sara's voice instantly pulled me into the story, and I enjoy accompanying her from conception to the birth of her child. I have seen people calling this a diverse Juno meets Gilmore Girls, and I say YES, this was a good way to describe the vibe, though, it was still unique in its own way. 

This story was very relatable to me, first as someone, who experienced an unplanned pregnancy (I was 22), and as a mother. I remember experiencing the same hopes and fears as Sara, as well as all the physical changes she went through. I will admit to you right now - I cried when Sara's child was born, because Darrows did such a great job of bringing me into the moment. 

Anyone who knows my reading tastes understands that I prefer my books to be on the lighter side. I was initially worried, that this would not fit the bill, as it was dealing with teen pregnancy, but this was an interesting balance of being honest about the situation, while still be low drama. 

Darrows gifted Sara with super supportive friends, and an incredible cadre of women to help her during and after the pregnancy. Sara also had a sweet cinnamon roll of a love interest, Leaf, who I just couldn't get enough of. He was sweet, attentive, family orientated, and an incredible cook. 

But let's go back to Sara's family. Her mother and mormor were both strong women, who had learned a lot via their life experiences. It was interesting that both of them had experienced their own unplanned pregnancies, and were able to share this with Sara, as she was struggling with her own choices. Yes, both were strong, fierce, independent women, but mormor was amazing! I loved that woman from the first time she threw a shoe at someone. Mormor may have come off a bit rigid, but she gave her heart and soul to her "girls", and it was the little things she did, over and over again, that really warmed my heart. 

Though it was easy to predict the stages of Sara's pregnancy, there was this "event", which occurred, and surprised me in a good way. I was totally ready for things to go a certain way, and then Darrows changed directions, and I approved! 

Overall: This was a teen pregnancy story as seen through rose-colored glasses. It was amusing and witty, while still honestly addressing real issues faced as a result of an unplanned pregnancy.
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This started out so good and fun, but slowly declined the more I kept reading. It was almost as if chunks of the book were either written by a different person, or not edited as closely. At the end of reading, I didn’t get exactly what the point was of the book—nothing really happened. I could tell the author had a lot of great ideas scrambled all together, but nothing was fleshed out enough to carry that whole book.

It could have been about the struggles of being pregnant in high school—or even pregnancy in general. There was a lot of positive talk and representation of the LGBTQ+ community, but even that felt a little half-assed. Sara makes a remark towards the end about being a questioning bisexual it just came out of nowhere! It could have been really interesting to explore someone questioning their sexuality while young, pregnant, and falling in love with a guy. On the positive side, we get lots of talk of gender politics when it came to the baby, not wanting to assume gender until the kid could decide on their own. There was ace, trans, and queer rep, as well. 

One of the things that I immediately loved about the writing was the voice. It was fun and felt really authentic teen voice. However, as the story progressed, that voice sometimes tried too hard to be funny and quirky, especially when it came to Sara’s mom—she sounded more like a teenager than a mother in her late 30’s.

Other things that I felt were really strong were the relationships: between friends, parents, and romantic. The three generational Larssen family was rock solid, taking on this pregnancy as a united front. The tight knit friendship between Sara and her best friend, Devi, was so strong that it transferred over to Sara’s friends at her new school. Even with her baby daddy Jack, they had a connection that clicked from the start and transformed once he popped back into her life. I actually wish he could have appeared earlier in the book so that we could see more of him being a part of pregnancy. I know that the big plot device was to have him find out so late, but once he found out he could have contributed something, and not be so passive.  

There were such good intentions, it just didn't work for me. 

I was sent an e-arc from NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.
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I really enjoyed Belly Up. It's hilarious but rings of truth and the characters are not only memorable but a majority of them are lovable. I also love how supportive Sara's loved ones are.
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I got an ebook ARC of Belly Up a little while ago and I was super intrigued by this book and it turned out to be just the book for me. It went by super fast for me because I was very invested in the story and characters and being very honest I wish there was more because I could read it forever.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Serendipity is a sixteen-year-old who has been through a rough break up with her boyfriend and is now at a summer party with a friend. However, at this party, she meets a new boy, Jack. Jack does not go to her school and they spend the party getting friendly, up until friendly turns into a romantic time in Jack’s truck. A few months after the party while Sara (her nickname) is feeling very sick she goes to the doctor and finds out her time in Jack’s truck resulted in her being pregnant. Now she has to face the last year of school (at a new school because her mother and her are planning to move one town over to live with Mormor, her grandmother) while pregnant and she does not have any way to contact Jack.

The story of Sara and her pregnancy, as well as her journey of the last year of high school, was beyond amazing. I loved how the author treated the characters and showed different sides of everyone. I did not want to give up too many spoilers about Sara’s story but she has major decisions to make as the book goes on including if she is ready to be a mother and the author handles each of these decisions with grace. I can not recommend this book enough and I really need to get myself a finished copy when it comes out at the end of the month.
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A light-hearted novel about a pregnant teen adjusting to a new change in her life, Belly Up has an entertaining narrator in the form of Sara. Sara has a deviation in her life plan in the form of an unintended pregnancy, and the book is about her growing into her new life. The tone of the book is more like 'OMG what is this new facet of pregnancy' and also has a family aspect much like 'One Day at a Time' (Okay, I know a lot of peeps are saying it has a Gilmore Girls vibe but I only ever saw one episode of that show, so I am making comparison with something I am familiar with). A big part of Sara's adjustment to this new situations and the difficulties of pregnancies at such a young age is the big support system she has - her supportive mom, her scary (but prickly kind) grandmother, her best friend/wifey, her super-sweet new boyfriend, as well as a helpful school staff. There are challenges for Sara, yes, but the general message is that she can overcome those with the help of those around her.

Besides the main theme of pregnancy, and the grueling months of gestation that Sara has to go through (which is explained in detail, with all the gross and wonderful aspects in between), the story also gives weight to the characters' life experiences. Sara discusses her identity through the lens of being white-passing Hispanic, through a questioning (bisexual) teen, and there's also discussion and delving of Leaf's Romani heritage, and his customs. Devi's addition is also great because she is a super-supportive and loyal best friend, whose presence lights up the bond between them as they affectionately call each other wifey; I feel her being grey-ace also allowed Sara to recognize Leaf being demi (because you know she researched upon it when Devi told her). Additionally, there was discussion about assigned gender and stuff, which is brought up by Morgan, one of Leaf's best friends. I felt the book gave good weight to how a Gen Z teen would consider these issues, and it reflects in their choices and interactions.

As for the interactions between the characters, it is subtly hilarious and light. The dialogue is very fresh and organic, and reflects their age well. Devi and Sara have a close bond, and they have a no-drama friendship going on, with them being supportive of each other. Sara and her mother (Astrid) have this wonderful dynamic where the latter is able to be a parent as well as a friend, and Astrid taking care of her daughter as well as eternally ready to stand up for her, even with her mother, was wonderful. Speaking of the grandmother, she was also hella interesting in that she means well, but she also has a prickly personality and occasional bouts of immaturity, but a rock when needed. Morgan and Erin are sweet, and they could have been more present, but I loved how they readily accepted Sara and also had conversations about their identities. Finally, Leaf - an adorable book boyfriend who is quite mature, yet friendly and he COOKS! Like, this dude is a GD gift! I loved how their romance was mostly no-drama and even with Jack's presence, it didn't rush to a predictable trope.

There are numerous times in which Sara makes you laugh with how she approaches her pregnancy with dry and at time, self-deprecating humor; sorta like this:

    "Mom answered the call of the wild— aka my needy kid growling inside of my stomach— with the golden arches."



Finally, I would say that while this is a low-drama, low-conflict book, it is an amazing character-driven story that shows how supporting someone can help them thrive.
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This is a well written YA novel with perhaps the most diverse group of characters I've ever read.  Sara's surprise pregnancy and move to a new town intimidated her at first but turned into an exploration of how it does take a village.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Two thumbs up.
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I received an E-ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher (Inkyard Press). I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Belly Up has a release date of April 30, 2019.

Short Summary: Belly Up is a story about 16 year old Serendipity (Sara) who falls pregnant at the end of her sophomore year. As a reader, you follow Sara as she goes on the journey of being a pregnant teen to becoming a young mother.

Review: I will be honest, I only made it to Chapter 16 (out of 38) before I started skim reading. I could not handle the main character or really the story line. It was all too fluffy and everyone was just so perfect and so happy. It seemed unrealistic in my eyes. I also thought that the story just repeated itself every couple of chapters. Overall, I  was excited to read this story, but it fell short.
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I enjoyed Belly Up from beginning to end. I like that Sara is a teenage girl that is not perfect. She’s finds herself in a situation that’s not easy and isn’t sure what she’s going to do. She’s young and acts irresponsibly when she’s at a party where her ex is with his new girlfriend. 
I like that Sara’s mother and grandmother are both strong women that have a lot to teach Sara so she will also be strong. Her grandmother is funny throwing shoes at people. She doesn’t reserve that just for her daughter, she will do it to anyone that makes her angry. 
Sara is pregnant but it’s not the end of the world. She makes new friends, people who are different and not accepted by everyone. And she meets a boy she likes and grows to have feeling for. 
It’s not easy for her because things change once she finds out she’s pregnant and she has to make some pretty big decisions. But she makes the best ones for her. She makes the decisions herself. I like how she’s makes the decisions herself. And how she’s accepting of others who are different. 
A really good book with humor. I highly recommend it.
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I think this could have been a great book, but it missed the mark for me. The forced political correctness bothered me beyond distraction. Trans, lesbian, bi, grey ace, Demi,  Really?  Could we have possible fit in any more labels?  And for what?  I'm all for inclusivity, but there wasn't any reason other than to use those labels in the book so we can all pat ourselves on the back at how open minded we all are. There needed to be more of a focus on the plot, and giving the characters more distinct voices. I also didn't like where the book ended. I would have liked to have seen more of after the birth. Just not a winner for me.
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Happy Thursday!

It’s been a busy but good week thus far. I even finished a book and I am well on my way to finishing several others! I got an ebook ARC of Belly Up a little while ago and I was super intrigued by this book and it turned out to be just the book for me. It went by super fast for me because I was very invested in the story and characters and being very honest I wish there was more because I could read it forever.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Serendipity is a sixteen-year-old who has been through a rough break up with her boyfriend and is now at a summer party with a friend. However, at this party, she meets a new boy, Jack. Jack does not go to her school and they spend the party getting friendly, up until friendly turns into a romantic time in Jack’s truck. A few months after the party while Sara (her nickname) is feeling very sick she goes to the doctor and finds out her time in Jack’s truck resulted in her being pregnant. Now she has to face the last year of school (at a new school because her mother and her are planning to move one town over to live with Mormor, her grandmother) while pregnant and she does not have any way to contact Jack.

The story of Sara and her pregnancy, as well as her journey of the last year of high school, was beyond amazing. I loved how the author treated the characters and showed different sides of everyone. I did not want to give up too many spoilers about Sara’s story but she has major decisions to make as the book goes on including if she is ready to be a mother and the author handles each of these decisions with grace. I can not recommend this book enough and I really need to get myself a finished copy when it comes out at the end of the month. I gave this book five stars on Goodreads (wishing it could be more).
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**ARC provided by NetGalley** 

I flip-flopped between 3 stars and 4 stars the entire time I read this book, so we'll settle for 4 because the ending totally won me over. I read a lot of YA novels, but I don't think I've ever chosen a novel that's about teenage pregnancy. It was SO INTERESTING to me! I know nothing about what it's like to be pregnant or birth a child, but I felt like this novel did an awesome job of showing the realties - both good AND bad - of what it's like to be pregnant, especially as a teenager. The main character, Sara, has so many authentic relationships, and I also love that about the story. 

My only complaint is, at times, the characters were a bit annoying. The way they talked was sort of similar to the way high schoolers talk? But it seemed a little juvenile even so. Additionally, it felt like the characters were kind of surface level, and everything always seemed to work out in the end. I'm not saying that things CAN'T work out okay....but it seemed almost too good to be true. 

I like to end on a compliment, so my final thoughts are that I REALLY loved the diversity in the book. I think it was awesome to see so many different nationalities and sexualities, and they were treated totally normally. Characters weren't really pointed out because they were trans or asexual...they just WERE. If that makes sense. 

All in all, I feel like I have some students that would benefit from reading a novel like this. They could use the window into what a teenage pregnancy might be like (whether they are pregnant or know someone that is), and they could also use the characters as good examples of how they deserve to be treated in friendships and relationships. That was so important to me, and I really loved seeing that in this book. 

Overall, totally enjoyable read!
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Rounding up from barely 2.5 stars. There were some moments of humor, but overall this felt like a generic teen pregnancy book with far too many quirky politically-correct characters (trans girl, Rom boy, grey ace bestie, mom who left an abusive relationship, cool grandmother, etc.). I almost didn't stick with this because of the overkill, but Sara could have been my biological mother 56 years ago and I wanted to see what happened. The ending was also a bit of a disappointment - did she graduate high school as planned? what about future plans? Less time on the quirky, more on the plot.

eARC provided by publisher.
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When Serendipity "Sara" Rodriguez sees her ex with his new girlfriend, she finds herself eager and ready to have fun with someone new. One spontaneous hook-up and several weeks later, she realizes that she may not have gotten Jack's number, but she did get something else from him: she's pregnant. To top everything off, she and her mother have just moved in with her grandmother, and she's starting a new school. When she meets Leaf, a sweet guy who understands her situation and remains crushing on her, she's swooning. But when she finally finds Jack months into her pregnancy, 'complicated' reaches a new level as she readies to have her kid. 

I have never read a YA teen pregnancy book quite like BELLY UP. This book has been pitched as Juno meets Gilmore Girls, and there couldn't be a more accurate description. While the pregnancy is absolutely taken seriously, Sara has an excellent team by her side in her family and friends. She explores all her options and makes the choice that she believes is best for her. It isn't romanticized or shamed but is wonderfully realistic. Sara's world is shaken but far from destroyed, and she is ultimately able to work towards a new future for herself, different than what she had previously imagined but still positive. 

Sara and her family are hilarious. I love her mother and grandmother and the whole family's dynamic. They bicker and huff often, but there is so much affection underneath it all. Likewise, Sara's friends are well-developed and have fun side plots of their own. Though the big action-inducing plot revolves around Sara's pregnancy, the themes of BELLY UP extend into friendship, figuring out who you want to be, and using your voice. 

Some may read Leaf and Sara's relationship as unrealistic. While their situation may not be the common narrative, I don't believe it crosses into unrealistic territory. Leaf is understanding of Sara's situation, as his sister is a young mother as well. Leaf doesn't ignore Sara's pregnancy or seek to be a father figure, but rather respects and acknowledges that this will be a huge aspect of Sara's life and will always follow her direction when it comes to her needs. In short, they are a kind, generous pair. 

BELLY UP is the type of story where you want to hug the book after and hold it close on sad days. At its heart, BELLY UP proves that love and family (biological or chosen) are powerful resources, no matter what twists and turns life brings.
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A book about teenage pregnancy. A book that makes you think and teaches you a lot at the same time. Well written
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I enjoyed reading this book, but  the pregnancy aspects felt forced to me, like they were inserted later. However, perhaps it is just not the book for me in that respect. I enjoyed the curvy and queer representation. As a person of Scandinavian descent, it was really nice to see aspects of my family and my culture where I wasn’t expecting to. As I read an e-ARC, I’m not sure exactly how long this book is, but it felt very short. Although Sera’s family is very well characterized, I think there could’ve been more characterization of the people at her school, including her adorable boyfriend Leaf. I also think the conflicts could’ve been drawn out a bit more, especially around her child’s father. He could’ve also had more characterization, which that could also be a reflection on his importance in her life, but I don’t think it’s that deep. 
Overall though, it was a cute, fun book and the fact that she calls her grandmother “Mormor” makes up for anything I didn’t like about Belly Up.
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Sara (Serendipity) is a 17 yr old girl with good grades that made a poor drunken decision with a cute boy names Jack which resulted a unplanned pregnancy. 

My favorite characters had to be the mom and grandmother. I see pieces of myself in Sara's mom! 

Leaf, the boy who becomes Sara's boyfriend, is so sweet and amazing.  I just loved his attentiveness and his love for cooking which reminded me of my own husband. 

Sara's best friend Devi was pretty awesome and helped her throughout Sara's whole journey. 

I am knocking a star off because yea it all felt like a dream. The only person to get angry was Jack's father. Everyone else took it in stride and it just didn't seem realistic for teenage pregnancy but if it was for anyone reading this that is amazing. 

I had absolutely NO PROBLEM with everyone in the book basically being a form of representation but it really did feel like after a while the author was trying to make sure she was checking off a list.  I enjoyed it though because that is real life. Everyone around you is different and that was represented in this book to the fullest extent.  

I would like to find out more about Sara after becoming a mom. Does she eventually go to college? Inquiring minds need to know!

Thank you to Netgalley and Inkyard Press for an earc of this book in return for an honest review. It gets a thumbs up from me!
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A peculiar take on the teen pregnancy story. Sara finds herself pregnant her senior year of high school, and this ends up just being... fine. Little attention is given to consequences or hardships of this decision, which was a distracting direction.
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I have to say that I DNF'd this book at about 20%. I think that it may just be a little too young for my age, since i am a 28 year old mom. And I have to admit that I can't relate to Sara at all. I was really hoping that I would love this story, but unfortunately, I didn't. 

Part of my frustration is that Sara was just totally irresponsible. I never experienced that type of irresponsibility because I didn't have the same personality as Sara at 16-17. I was very quiet and introverted. Sara is outgoing and outspoken. 

I was also hoping that the beginning would start off more than just the party and than the hook up. When we got to 14% into the book and she finds out she is pregnant, I felt totally unaffected. I just realized I didn't care. 

I don't want to give this a 0-1 star rating because I think it could be a great book for a young adult reader. A girl at the age of 16 or 17 could probably benefit from reading this especially if she is in the same boat. It is just a story that is no where near relevant to my life or situation. I really wanted to love this and I have to admit, I am sad that I couldn't get into the story.
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The synopsis tells us this is a hook about. a “queer” teen who ends up pregnant.

What I liked about this book. The character of Leaf was a nice person. That’s about it.

This is a hard review to write, because I felt mislead by the synopsis. We’re led to believe our main character is a “queer” teen who ends up pregnant. I may just be old school, but I disagree. There is literally only one line in the book, where when she is attempting to fit in with a lesbian and a trans girl, she says “she think she might be bi”. Other than that, she only has relationships,/sleeps with THREE cisgender male characters. Only talks about being attracted or sleeping with those three male characters. I also felt like the fact that every character had specific labels was waaaaaay too much. Lesbian. Grey aromantic asexual, Demi sexual, possibly bi,.....it just felt forced. I’m glad this book exists for that person who needs this specific amount of representation, but it’s not me. 

Also, because of the non stop snarkiest of our MC, I felt like we never even got to know her, even though we were in her head the entire time. No one is that snarky 24/7. While the author may have been going for a Juno meets Gilmore Girls vibe, it didn’t work for me.

ARC provided by Netgalley in return for a review
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This was such a unique take on teen pregnancy. I really enjoyed this story and found it absolutely related. I think this is the kind of story teens should not be afraid to read. The representation was so good and I can't wait to get a finished copy.
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