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Not My Daughter
by Barbara Delinsky

Published: 2009-12-09
Kindle Edition : 416 pages
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A pregnancy pact between three teenaged girls puts their mothers' love to the ultimate test in this explosive new novel from Barbara Delinsky, “a first-rate storyteller who creates characters as familiar as your neighbors.” (Boston Globe)

 

When Susan Tate's seventeen-year-old ...
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Introduction

A pregnancy pact between three teenaged girls puts their mothers' love to the ultimate test in this explosive new novel from Barbara Delinsky, “a first-rate storyteller who creates characters as familiar as your neighbors.” (Boston Globe)

 

When Susan Tate's seventeen-year-old daughter, Lily, announces she is pregnant, Susan is stunned. A single mother, she has struggled to do everything right. She sees the pregnancy as an unimaginable tragedy for both Lily and herself.

 

Then comes word of two more pregnancies among high school juniors who happen to be Lily's best friends-and the town turns to talk of a pact. As fingers start pointing, the most ardent criticism is directed at Susan. As principal of the high school, she has always been held up as a role model of hard work and core values. Now her detractors accuse her of being a lax mother, perhaps not worthy of the job of shepherding impressionable students. As Susan struggles with the implications of her daughter's pregnancy, her job, financial independence, and long-fought-for dreams are all at risk.

 

The emotional ties between mothers and daughters are stretched to breaking in this emotionally wrenching story of love and forgiveness. Once again, Barbara Delinsky has given us a powerful novel, one that asks a central question: What does it take to be a good mother?


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Review

Amazon Exclusive: Kristin Hannah Reviews Not My Daughter

Kristin Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of 18 novels, including Firefly Lane, On Mystic Lake, Between Sisters, and True Colors. She is a former lawyer turned writer and is the mother of one son. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Read her exclusive Amazon guest review of Not My Daughter:

In this compelling, ripped-from-the-headline offering from bestselling author Barbara Delinsky, three high school seniors make a pregnancy pact. Heightening the stakes, these arenâ??t just any seniors--these are three popular, college-bound girls from good families. Set in an insular, tightly knit community in Maine, Not My Daughter explores the consequences of pact behavior on a small town, as well as the strain placed on mothers and daughters who find themselves in unfamiliar terrain. One of the pregnant teens is the daughter of the high school principal--a former teen mother herself--and the local school board is quick to assign blame. When the national media gets wind of the story, the principalâ??s job is put in jeopardy, as is her standing in the community. Not My Daughter is a timely exploration of teen motherhood and the hard choices that sometimes have to be made in life. Barbara Delinsky, long known as one of the premier authors of women's fiction, once again reveals the hidden strengths of ordinary women when faced with extraordinary adversity.--Kristin Hannah

(Photo © Deborah Feingold)


Excerpt

Chapter 1

Susan Tate never saw it coming. She only knew that her daughter was different. The girl who had always been spontaneous and open had suddenly grown opaque.

Lily was seventeen. Maybe that said it. A senior in high school, she had a loaded course schedule, played field hockey and volleyball, and sang in an a cappella group. And, yes, Susan was spoiled by the close relationship she and Lily had always had. Theywere a family of two, fully comfortable with that and each other. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. What do the novel’s opening pages tell you about Susan’s relationship with her daughter? What advantages and disadvantages does Susan experience as a single parent? Would you have married Rick at age eighteen if you had been in her situation?

2. How does Susan’s life compare to the lives of the other moms in the book, Kate, Sunny, and Pam? What do their daughters—Lily, Mary Kate, Jess, and Abby—have in common? Are there any similarities between the way the mothers interact and the girls’ circle of friendship?

3. How did you react when Abby revealed why she had wanted to form a motherhood pact with her friends? What longings were they each hoping to fill by becoming pregnant? Were they seeking unconditional love, rebellion against their parents, or something else altogether? How do their motivations change throughout the novel?

4. Though Not My Daughter is entirely a work of fiction, in the summer of 2008 media coverage erupted over a group of teenage girls in Gloucester, Massachusetts, who allegedly made a pact to become pregnant and raise their babies together. What does this say about the way our idea of motherhood has changed over generations? Do pregnancy and parenting mean something different to modern women, compared to our grandmothers’ generation?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

A note from author Barbara Delinsky:

The most common question I’m asked is “where do you get your ideas?” Well, lots of places. But my newest novel, Not my Daughter, is a perfect example of a plot that comes from the news. Two things happened during the summer of 2008, when I was fishing around for a good book idea. First, from Gloucester MA, came reports of a reputed pregnancy pact formed by 17 high school girls. It turned out not to be a pact. The high school’s principal actually lost his job after calling it one.

The second thing that happened was Sarah Palin. Soon after she arrived on the scene, we learned that her teenaged daughter was pregnant.

Between these two events, there were lots of headlines. How could I not think about this subject? Here we had Gloucester, a working class town. And Sarah Palin, head of a not-so-working-class family. And celebrities like Jamie Lynn Spears.

And so Not My Daughter was born. I conceived of a pregnancy pact involving a small number of girls – four actually in on the plan – and they were good girls from good families, good students who were headed for college. They were the last girls you would imagine doing this. But they had their reasons, each a little different from the other, and once done, it was done. And so you see where this novel begins. I hope you will read it to find out where it ends!

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