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Annie's Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager    by Beatrice Sparks order for
Annie's Baby
by Beatrice Sparks
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2004 (1998)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Annie is a typical fourteen-year-old girl. She desperately wants to fit in with the others at school, works hard in her classes, and plays on a soccer team. When Danny, an older boy, begins to flirt with her and pay extra attention, Annie is soon head over heels in love. Since Annie isn't old enough to date, she sneaks out to be with Danny, aching when they must be apart. Danny's attention ranges from hot to cold. He can pour on the charm, but at times he's very cruel.

Annie pours out her joy and heartache into her diary, but never is the pain greater than when she discovers she's pregnant. She chronicles the journey of her pregnancy, dealing with her mother, rejection by her peers and Danny, and the sacrifices she must make in order to keep her baby. Annie has a great number of decisions to make about her life. In opening her diary for everyone to read she exposes her deepest fears ... Can she complete school and still be a full-time mother to her baby? What if the baby gets sick? These hard questions and the harsh realities of their answers allow her to make the best choices for herself and her baby.

This is a fascinating look inside the head of a pregnant teenager, in what is marketed as a real diary. Readers will watch her progression from an idealistic young woman who seems to have it 'all figured out' to admitting that life doesn't always turn out as we imagine it will. You will be able to see Annie at her most vulnerable, which evokes sympathy and empathy. At the beginning, Annie is naive and allows herself to be treated badly because she doesn't really know any better. Readers looking at this from the outside may think - how on earth can she keep going back to Danny when he treats her so poorly? But Annie's perspective helps us to understand where she's coming from.

A few parts of the book seem dated and somewhat far-fetched. It is difficult for me to believe that Annie's mom doesn't push for Danny to take financial responsiblity for the baby. Instead she chooses to work multiple jobs and exhaust herself. A list of questions and sources for information and help are included at the end of the book. I do believe that everyone has something they can learn from Annie's Baby, whether it's a warning, information, or enlightenment. Annie's willingness to open her innermost thoughts will touch readers' hearts and lives.

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