My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: “Me, Him, Them, and It” was such an emotional ride. I didn’t realize how much of a punch it would be to follow Evie, a young woman who deals with the decisions surrounding her family and circle of friends when she discovers she’s pregnant and weighs her options. While I thought the narrative dragged quite a bit in places, where the emotional resonance kicked in, it kicked very hard, and I found myself caring for the respective cast, including Evie herself.
I really did not think I would like Caela Carter’s “Me, Him, Them, and It” as much as I did – it really surprised me. It starts off a little shaky as it portrays the story of a young woman named Evie who realizes she’s pregnant between her developing sexual relationship with Todd. They navigate through some awkward sexual first-times, and the story provides a clear picture of that in the intimacy of their encounters, but it feels so vivid, real, and put into proper context that it drew me into the narrative and how Evie felt about the situations she found herself in. When the pregnancy is revealed, Evie’s left with a series of tough choices – keeping the baby in her family, giving it up for adoption, or having an abortion. The story follows Evie through the motions of making that decision, alongside her friends and family’s reactions to the pregnancy.
I think my biggest problem in this work didn’t have anything to do with the characterization or the story itself – those elements, even with Evie tough narrative voice and flaws, were very sound and plausible. Evie has to deal with so much in this book including her parents’ pending separation, her best friend’s distance, living with her aunt in order to hide the pregnancy, and the decision she ultimately comes to make with respect to the baby. Heck, I’d take this story ten times over the manufactured drama I see on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” or “Teen Mom” any day. This story felt more real, visceral, emotionally resonant and I’ll admit it did hit hard at my core when it was all said and done.
The problem I had was how long the narrative read in certain sections. I think a good portion of this story could’ve been streamlined better and still packed some of the punch that it had with the revelations and tough subject details that it tackled. I understood walking through the options, the emotional changes Evie undergoes, and ultimately what she learns and comes to terms with in all this, but some of it did feel a bit longer than it should have, and if it had been a little better streamlined, this would’ve easily been a 4 or even 5 star read for me. I liked its grounding, I especially liked the characterization of Evie’s aunt and her respective family (which was far more solid than Evie’s own flawed family).
It’s a novel I would indubitably recommend in showcasing a young woman’s coming to terms with not only her sexual experiences and pregnancy, but also with respect to the matters she faces outside of that.
Overall score: 3/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Bloomsbury.