A Novel

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Pub Date 22 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 05 Sep 2023
St. Martin's Press | Wednesday Books


Juno meets Heartstopper in Jen Bailey's Unexpecting, a poignant and emotional story about found family, what it means to be a parent, and falling in love.

Benjamin Morrison is about to start junior year of high school and while his family is challenging, he is pretty content with his life, with his two best friends, and being a part of the robotics club. Until an experiment at science camp has completely unexpected consequences.

He is going to be a father. Something his mother was not expecting after he came out as gay and she certainly wasn’t expecting that he would want to raise the baby as a single father. But together they come up with a plan to prepare Ben for fatherhood and fight for his rights.

The weight of Ben’s decision presses down on him. He’s always tired, his grades fall, and tension rises between his mom and stepfather. He’s letting down his friends in the robotics club whose future hinges on his expertise. If it wasn’t for his renewed friendship (and maybe more) with a boy from his past, he wouldn’t be able to face the daily ridicule at school or the crumbling relationship with his best friends.

With every new challenge, every new sacrifice he has to make, Ben questions his choice. He’s lived with a void in his heart where a father’s presence should have been, and the fear of putting his own child through that keeps him clinging to his decision. When the baby might be in danger, Ben’s faced with a heart-wrenching realization: sometimes being a parent means making the hard choices even if they are the choices you don't want to make...

Juno meets Heartstopper in Jen Bailey's Unexpecting, a poignant and emotional story about found family, what it means to be a parent, and falling in love.

Benjamin Morrison is about to start junior...

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ISBN 9781250780942
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Average rating from 321 members

Featured Reviews

Jen Bailey does a phenomenal job of portraying her characters in this book. The book pulls on your heartstrings while making you smile all in a chapter. I really hope this becomes a series of books because I want to live in this world over and over again. I would rate this book a 5/5 stars. This is a must read for summer!

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4.5 Stars

Jen Bailey's Unexpecting is a very different kind of coming of age story.

Ben is obviously on the spectrum, and thinks of everything in a scientific, fact based way. Honestly, the author absolutely nailed this aspect of Ben. Seriously, over and over, every little thing Ben thinks is well written.
This story revolves around Ben getting his best friend pregnant. They are teens and in school. Both are science geeks. Ben sleeps with her to prove if he's gay or not. Guess what? He is. Meanwhile, she slept with him for research purposes too.
Obviously, these are not your typical characters. And all of their actions prove so.
There's a huge depth as to why Ben reacts the way he does to everything. Not only does his "science" brain take over, but he also basis everything on his experiences of not having a father.
Both families are well written, with reasons behind everyone's actions.
And in the end, Ben's mom is just amazing. I truly love her. She absolutely makes the story in the end.

Why read it? It's a unique story that fully puts you in the brain of an autistic teen who's struggling with life. Not many teen pregnancy story will ever give you these feels. The writing is well done, both in being honest and authentic, but also in the writing style.

The only thing I didn't love about this book is the way it was too close to home for me. Ben is my son. That is why I can honestly say the author nailed the way he thinks. So, as much as I enjoyed reading this, it also hurt.

But I am still thrilled I found this book.

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This book had me sold from the first page. I was curious and excited to see how this book would play out from the male perspective and it was hit out of the ball park. I just loved Ben and my heart ached watching him be forced to learn so many hard lessons so quickly at a young age. I just felt like the author put so much effort into writing such an emotionally charged book from start to finish. So well done!

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I loved this book, it was a captivating story, that not only endeared you to characters but helped you truly understand them and the hard decisions we make as people.

This book made me cry and gave me undeniably good hopeful feelings at the end. If you are looking for a book that gets you in the feels this is the one for you. I felt all the feelings while reading it (in a good way). I loved the way we got to see all the characters grow and how they all approached the same situations differently and similarly.

Watching Ben’s growth throughout the story is at times frustrating but overall rewarding. You get to see him look past his need for order and concrete things, and really explore his emotional side. You get to see him understand what Maxie is going through and even learn how to trust that a father figure is going to be there for him.

Overall, I thought this was a beautiful story. Every character was well developed and multilayered. The story was poignant and beautiful while being accessible and relatable. I’d highly recommend giving this a read!!

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You know those books that just get better and better as you go along? This is one of those books. The premise was enough to hook me, the plot hit the ground running on page one, the characters completely had me wrapped around their fingers, and the emotional stakes just increased with every page turn. By the 70-80% mark, I was in tears.

Ben is the sweetest kid. He’s 16 and an excellent student, super smart, responsible, a hard worker, but now he’s struggling to make sense of his life now that he’s found out he got his friend pregnant. He’s also gay. So there’s a bit of angst and drama but Ben ends up learning a lot of important lessons with the help of his amazing support system of family and friends.

My heart truly broke for Ben. I wanted him to not have to go through such pain and anguish. I wanted him to be able to enjoy what time he has left being a kid and not have to sacrifice the promising future he’d worked so hard to make possible for himself. And his heart is always in the right place which makes it all the more difficult to watch him struggling to come to terms with what has to be done. I was so proud of him too for listening to all the advice he was given, learning from his mistakes, and realizing that what he wanted wasn’t necessarily the right way to go.

One thing that stood out to me was that you don’t often see a teen pregnancy told from the father’s point of view. Jen Bailey handles this extremely well as it could have easily been a #notallmen / MRA / anti-woman message but it wasn’t (thankfully). In fact, Ben learns that he needs to make more of an effort to understand the baby’s mother’s experience and to ask himself why he’s doing what he’s doing. Part of his journey in this book is centered on him growing up and learning to put others’ needs before his own desires when necessary. I applaud Bailey on the careful and thoughtful way she navigated these tricky topics.

I suspect Ben is neurodivergent, likely on the autism spectrum. He admits to struggling with picking up nuances in conversation, is awkward in social situations, and exhibits rigid thinking, among other things. He even acknowledges knowing his whole life that he’s “different” from everybody else. I appreciate the subtlety Bailey used in conveying these elements of Ben’s character. They were never shown as obstacles or portrayed as negative. Props to the author for handling this aspect of the character so beautifully.

I enjoyed this book SO much. I would absolutely recommend Unexpecting for anyone of any age. It’s categorized as YA and the marketing compares it to Juno (which is a very apt comparison. If you liked Juno, you’re sure to enjoy this) but it’s a story for all ages, relatable and heartfelt, and highlights many important things along the way. It’s a beautiful story and will fill your heart with all the best feelings.

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5 stars all the way!


Benjamin Morrison came out to his mom and step-dad 2 months ago. He's gay. Now, he's sitting them down for another heart-to-heart. Why? Because he's gonna be a dad. What? How did the gay kid get a girl pregnant? Science.

Ben is quirky and loves robotics and calculus and science. How can his hypothesis that he's gay be true if he doesn't prove it. So, he and his equally science nerdy best friend Maxie have sex at, where else!:?, science camp. But, oops, the condom was out of date and now Maxie is pregnant.

Maxie's parents want to put all this behind her, so she can go on with her academic plans. Closed adoption, live, and learn. But, Ben has other ideas. He wants to keep his baby.

I thought Ben was the sweetest, most endearing character that I've read in a long time. He is trying so hard to do the right things, even if they don't all come easy to him.

About halfway through, I kinda guessed where this was going to end up - but I don't care because it was all so beautifully written. It's a beautiful day in Florida - the sun is shining, the birds are singing - and I was sitting on my front porch crying over Ben and Maxie's journey.

Thank you so much St. Martin's Press/Wednesday Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this digital ARC in return for an honest review.

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Many a tear was shed during the reading of this book!
But seriously this was a unique story with a lot of heart and so much pain and passion and emotion. I sobbed for the entire last 25% of the book and I loved every minute of it.
There was good representation in the book including several LGBTQ+ characters, a biracial couple, and adoptive parents etc.
The overarching theme of the book is that family is more than blood and I found that to be included throughout the book in a great way and I was very happy with how everything played out.
I highly recommend this book, it's seriously so sweet and heartwarming - it does deal with some tough situations but it handles them so beautifully.

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This book had me hooked immediately. I write this review in a blur as my eyes are rather wet after that ending.

Many teens every year are faced with the same things Maxie and Ben are with Teen Pregnancy.

My aunt became pregnant when she was 16. She hid it for a long time as she was worried what would happen. But 34 years later she is thankful she made the choices she did and I have always looked up to her.

Parts of this book got me in the feels surrounding adoption, I adopted my daughter and got to watch her being born. I’ll cherish her for eternity.

I think this book is well done!!

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