Trouble

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About The Book

In this dazzling debut novel, a pregnant teen learns the meaning of friendship—from the boy who pretends to be her baby’s father.

When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant via her ex-best friend, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness (besides the rest of the world): Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.”

Told in alternating perspectives between Hannah and Aaron, Trouble is the story of two teenagers helping each other to move forward in the wake of tragedy and devastating choices. In a year marked by loss, regret, and hope, the two will discover a simple truth: Nothing compares to finding your first, true best friend.

Excerpt

Trouble
Hannah

So I had sex with Fletch again last night. It was all right, better than last time anyway, and Fletch is a laugh. And he’s not so bad-looking . . . although not so good without his clothes on. We didn’t cuddle afterward—that’s not really how it is with us. We were dressed and downstairs with our history books open by the time his mom came in, although you could tell she didn’t buy it the way she gave me evils when Fletch’s little brother ran over to show me the crown he’d made at school. Whatever. She might think she knows me by looking at the length of my skirt, but it’s her youngest son who’s got me sussed. Kids see all the way to your soul. What you wear and how you look mean nothing to them.

I showered as soon as I got in. No one questioned me about it. Why would they? I shower a lot. Mom asked me about my homework, so I lied, but she asked to see it and we had a fight. There was a lot of screaming (her), a few tears (her), and finally a grudging “I’ll do it after EastEnders” (me—although I wished she’d offered to do it). I never even got started I was so knackered.

This morning I’d planned to get it done before school, but Lola threw a tantrum because she’d already eaten all her favorite cereals from the variety pack. Mom’s attempt to make it better by adding chocolate milk to cornflakes was an epic fail, and Lola ended up spilling half of it on her uniform as she poured it in the bin. Guess who had to clean it up? I barely had time to grab my cold toast as Robert hustled us out and into the car.

I’ve no choice but to do my homework now.

Robert holds off for all of five minutes before it starts.

“I thought you did that last night?”

“Well, I didn’t,” I say, my eyes still on the worksheet I’ve got flattened on my thigh. Despite Lola’s tuneless singing in the back, I hear Robert take a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“You lied to your mother.”

“No, I didn’t. I said I’d do it after EastEnders—this is after EastEnders, isn’t it?”

“Don’t be so clever.”

I nearly point out that clever is exactly what everyone does want me to be, but I don’t want a fight.

“She just wants what’s best for you.”

“Mm-hm,” I reply, my lips a tight line as I bite down on any more comebacks.

“You need to stop being so hard on your mom, Hannah,” he says, tapping the turn signal with his middle finger.

“She needs to stop being so hard on me,” I reply.

I swear I just heard a sigh.

“It’s true,” I say. “She’s always on at me about something.”

“She loves you. She worries about you.” It’s only because Lola’s too young for them to worry about—give her another ten years and she’ll be getting the same shit as me.

“Tell her not to bother.”

That was definitely a sigh. “Perhaps if you tried applying yourself to your schoolwork a little more . . .”

“What makes you think I’m not?”

“You spend so much time out with Katie and . . .” I look up to see a frown crease his forehead. He has no idea who else I spend time with and opts for a lame “. . . your friends. And your marks aren’t what they should be.”

“Should they be more like Jay’s?” I say, changing a “4” to a “7” in my last answer. Now it just looks like a weird Chinese symbol.

Robert rubs the gap between his eyebrows with two fingers—a sure sign he’s sick of the conversation. “I don’t want you comparing yourself to him.”

We all know why. Robert might have the perfect son, but Mom certainly hasn’t got the perfect daughter.

I write over the “7” again. It looks even worse now.

By the time we’ve dropped Lola off at her school and pulled up near the front of Kingsway I’ve done enough to get by, although I’ll get some snarky comment about presentation when I hand it in. I tell Robert that I’ll be going around to Katie’s after school and open the door, swinging it straight into some boy walking past.

“Sorry,” I say once I’ve got out and slammed the door shut.

“No worries.” It’s Aaron Tyler, the new history teacher’s son. He looks through me, an elastic-band smile stretching tightly across his face for a second before pinging back into nothing as he carries on walking down to the school.

I watch him for a moment. He’s quite cute behind that tucked-in shirt and perfect-length tie. Anyone else would get flak for looking so smart, but there’s something in the way he wears it that stops anyone—even the basketball boys—from taking the piss. He only started this term, like his dad, and there’s plenty of rumors why Aaron Tyler’s moved schools halfway through his GCSEs. Gideon reckons he’s gay and got bullied—I reckon that’s just wishful thinking. I asked Katie what she thought, but she wasn’t interested in why he’d left, only whether she was in with a chance. Although I know she Googled him after that to see if she could find anything. She didn’t, but knowing her, she wouldn’t have bothered reading beyond the first page. She’s not that interested in him.

My phone beeps a text. Katie. Obviously.

U shag Fletch again??? He’s giving ur “homework” session 10/10!

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

Trouble

by Non Pratt

 

About the Book

When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant via her ex-best friend, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness (besides the rest of the world): Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.”

Told in alternating perspectives between Hannah and Aaron, Trouble is the story of two teenagers helping each other to move forward in the wake of tragedy and devastating choices. As you read about their year of loss, regret, and hope, you’ll remember your first, real best friend—and how they were like a first love.

Discussion Questions

1. On the very first page of Trouble, Hannah remarks, “Kids see all the way to your soul.” Do you think this ability is unique to children? How and why might children perceive people differently than teens or adults?

2. Hannah says, “Katie and me are different” when comparing how she and her friend interact with guys. Just how are Hannah and Katie different? In what ways does each assume or relinquish power in relationships?

3. Although Hannah’s mother is open to talking about sex, she hadn’t planned on having the discussion until Hannah was sixteen years old. When do you think is a good time for parents to broach the subject with their children? Do you think teens should take the initiative and start the conversation instead? Who else might be a dependable resource for teens to talk to about sex?

4. Hannah is a victim to disturbing cyberbullying. What is cyberbullying? How does it differ from traditional bullying? What causes cyberbullying, and why does it seem to be so prevalent in society today? What can teens do to stand up to this kind of treatment? What would you have done if you were Hannah or one of her friends?

5. Referring to his honesty with Neville, Aaron reflects, “Knowing absolutely nothing about each other makes it easier to share the most private of memories.” Do you agree with Aaron’s observation?

6. Hannah’s mother voices her concern about sex education (or lack thereof) in her country. How would you describe sex education where you live? What makes sex education effective? How and when should sex education be delivered? By whom?

7. To Aaron, helping Hannah by posing as her baby’s father is about him (“This is about me” he says). How so? What led to this decision? Was this a good choice on his part? How do you feel about the way his parents handled the news of his decision?

8. Aaron explains to Neville that he offered to help Hannah because he “wanted to do something meaningful.” Explain his intentions, and whether you think he achieved his goal. In what ways have you sought meaning in your own life?

9. What is the significance of Aaron and Neville’s relationship in this book? How is this friendship important to Neville? How is it important to Aaron? How does Aaron’s relationship with Neville compare to his relationship with Hannah? How does Aaron and Neville’s dynamic fit in with the themes of Trouble?

10. Aaron confesses, “It’s too much to be forgiven when all you want is to be blamed.” What is he referring to here? When is it hard to be forgiven? Is forgiveness earned, or is it an entitlement?

11. We don’t learn the circumstances of Aaron’s past until near the end of the book. What clues did Non Pratt provide early on in the story to suggest that there was trouble in his past? What did you suspect had happened? When did the truth become clear to you?

12. When did you start to suspect who the baby’s father really was? What clues tipped you off? What was your reaction when you learned the truth?

13. Jay seems to justify his lack of involvement with Hannah’s pregnancy by arguing that conception wasn’t exactly his choice. What do you think? Can you relate to Jay? To Hannah? Whose responsibility is birth control—the guy’s or the girl’s? How far does this responsibility extend?

14. Why is this book called Trouble? Describe some examples of trouble in the novel that are most glaring to you, as well as those that might not be as obvious.

15. A strong theme in this book is making choices. What choices did Hannah have to make? Aaron? Jay? How did each deal with the consequences of his/her choices?

16. Did Aaron make the right choices in Trouble? What constitutes the right choice? Did Hannah make the right choice?

 

Guide written by Catharine Sotzing Prodromou, Reading Specialist at the Alta Vista School, San Francisco, CA.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

 

 

About The Author

Photograph © 2014 by Jordan Curtis Hughes

Non Pratt is the author of the acclaimed Trouble and Remix. After graduating from Trinity College Cambridge, she became a book editor at Usborne, working on the bestselling Sticker Dolly Dressing and Things to Make and Do series. She lives in London with her husband and small(ish) child and writes full time. Find her on Twitter @NonPratt.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 2015)
  • Length: 400 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781442497733
  • Grades: 9 and up
  • Ages: 14 - 99
  • Lexile ® 790L

Raves and Reviews

"Secrets about both characters, expressed in Hannah and Aaron’s alternating narratives, will pique the interest of readers as conflicts test their efforts to do the right thing...Pratt eloquently shows how empathy and compassion cause hope to spring from despair."

– Publishers Weekly, *STARRED REVIEW

"The stress, strain, and isolation of being a pregnant teen, and, therefore, an outcast, is delivered with intense emotional clarity. Hannah and Aaron’s bond could easily be misconstrued as romantic; theirs is a deep, platonic friendship, and Pratt’s honest and mature depiction will endear readers to the unconventional pairing."

– Booklist

"The story speaks to the teen experience and doesn’t get bogged down in the slut-shaming that books with more negative outcomes reinforce."

– School Library Journal

Awards and Honors

  • Kansas State Reading Circle List High School Title
  • ALA/YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults - Top Ten
  • Westchester Fiction Award

Resources and Downloads

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    Photograph © 2014 by Jordan Curtis Hughes
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