Hanging on to Max

Hanging on to Max - Margaret Bechard This was an incredibly short book recommended to me by my son's best friend from high school. I needed a young adult book with a baby as the main character (or as one of them) for a challenge, so I went to her for advice. She knows that I like the idea of a teenage boy keeping his baby, so she recommended this book. I have to say, at just over 200 pages, it was one of the quickest reads I have ever done. In fact, it only took me about 3 hours to read start to finish.

The premise of the book is that Sam, a 17-year-old high school senior, decides to raise his son Max by himself. This premise really interests me as there are so many books written about teenage girls and the decisions that they have to make when they become pregnant, but no one really focuses on the boys and what they go through. The idea that a teenage boy will want to keep and raise a child really intrigues me.

Unfortunately, although Sam decides to raise Max, and is in the midst of working to that end at the beginning of the book, throughout the book it is apparent that he is not comfortable with his new role, and that he regrets his decision. Although he professes to love Max, he is embarrassed by him. In addition, he is whiny and self-centered, and his parental support is actually non-existent. By the end of the book, the outcome of his life and Max's is a forgone conclusion.

While I found Sam and his family to be cookie cutter characters and disappointing, I thought that Claire and Emily and their family was a gem. I would actually much rather have read more about them than to listen to Sam continually complain about how hard it was to be a teenage dad. DUH! What did he expect. But even Claire, who professes to fall for Sam, dumps him at the first sign that he is not totally in love with teen parenting. It is apparent that it is not Sam that she likes, but the idea of a boy who is in the same boat as her.

All in all I found this book disappointing and formulaic. It's moral, it is always better to give the child up, is preachy and overdone. For once I would like to see a different side of this question explored.