Seventeen-year-old Sandy is a high-school senior, cheerleader, and honor student. Brad Donnelly plays football, and plays it well. She is in love; he is--well, he’s a teenaged boy with “experience.”
But it is 1974 and Sandy is convinced that Brad loves her as much as she loves him and that they will get married, one day. And then she learns why she’s been throwing up, every morning, before school. These days, she could have had him charged with date rape, because he got her very drunk, the one night that they had sex. But her real anguish begins after she has told Brad that she is pregnant, and worsens when a meeting of Sandy, Brad, and their respective parents ends very badly.
Later, Sandy encounters a mysterious woman who calls Sandy “Rebekah,” saying Sandy is carrying twin boys who must be separated at birth. The woman adds that, if the boys ever meet, one will die—and then she walks away. Her prophecy haunts Sandy through the years as, little by little, it comes true. Just in case the prophecy is true, Sandy selects two adoptive couples—on opposite sides of the country—to take one boy, each. Neither couple knows about the fraternal twin.
After Sandy’s pregnancy is resolved, the story jumps 33 years from 1974 to 2008, and takes us into the lives of other young, pregnant, unmarried teens. Between the beginning of the book and the crisis point, we read about the choices to be made including abortion, adoption, and keeping the baby. Whitlow gives us parents and other family members who support without forcing or coercing; boyfriends who manipulate and give ultimatums; a rapist who later threatens the lives of several key characters; and other adults who apply great pressure to a young Hispanic girl who is learning English, but who does not understand legalities and many “big words.”
Along the way, the many important choices Sandy faces and makes, as Whitlow points out in his notes to the reader, show her to be both “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” Yes, it’s possible. Whitlow has written from a “pro-life” bias, but with sensitivity to the anguish of young girls who find themselves pregnant, whether through rape or romantic entanglements, when they are not prepared for motherhood; to the pressures they encounter from other people in their lives; to the strength that can be offered by parents and other family members; and to the difficulty in making the many decisions—choices--that must be made, not only by the pregnant teen, but by others in her life.
Many years have passed since girls in that situation were often sent to stay with an “Aunt Linda” until after the birth of the baby. But so much of what passes for societal support only adds to their anguish.
Whitlow learned, however long ago, how to foreshadow things to come; too many authors today rely on statements like, “It’s impossible,” and “It can never be,” which get really old after the third repetition in a given story.
The Choice is my first book by Robert Whitlow, but I guarantee it won’t be my last. Far more complex and gripping than most of the novels I’ve read, in recent years, this one all but had me biting my nails before the crisis had passed. I highly recommend The Choice, and not only for women and girls.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.