Megan McCafferty’s Bumped is the sort of book you want to talk about at every stage of the reading experience. It’s got such an eyebrow-raising premise that I think I’d also be pretty interested to just listen in to other people talking about it. Here it is in a nutshell: What would the world be like if a virus caused almost all people over the age of 18 to become infertile and so teenagers were encouraged to / paid to have babies for themselves and for others? Of course this leads to another question: What would it be like to be one of those teenagers?
Some premise, huh?
Here’s the author talking a bit about the book and her inspiration for the story:
The way that the book is told in alternating chapters from each of the sisters’ perspectives really brings you deeper into the complex and sometimes contradictory opinions that exist in this imagined society. There were times when I agreed with Melody and other moments when I felt more in line with her sister, Harmony, but it was never straightforward enough to “take a side.” I liked the way that the parents (and all adults) stay more or less on the fringe of the story because it reinforces the division that exists in this new world. I think it’s smart that McCafferty is framing the novel as being less about teen pregnancy and more about how her characters discover the power of making difficult choices to be true to themselves. I agree with her. I don’t think that this is just a marketing angle or an attempt to make her potentially controversial book more palatable to some. You’ll be laughing too. There are plenty of preggy-themed jokes and I loved how McCafferty infuses all sorts of pregnancy-related language into the lingo that the teens use. She certainly succeeds at presenting an unsettling situation to readers while leaving room for humor, which I’m sure was not a simple balance to achieve. I’m curious to see where she goes with all of this in book two, which comes out next spring. I hope school libraries stock it even thought it could prove to be controversial because I’m sure that teens will be intrigued and inspired to start sharing their opinions after reading this book.
Bumped is published by Balzer & Bray.