Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that the women of her family have been suffering for generations under a curse laid by a mysterious faerie being. Each of Lucy’s maternal ancestors has had a daughter at age 18, then gone insane. The curse can only be broken by completing a trio of impossible tasks, as laid down in the folk ballad “Scarborough Fair”. Lucy is determined to save her unborn daughter by completing the tasks…but how do you make a shirt without seams or needlework?
The plot is fairly conventional and for the most part predictable, and the writing is mediocre, stylistically simple and not especially lyrical. But even so, a couple of things about this book impressed me. For one, Lucy chooses to keep her unborn child even though those around her advise her to get an abortion. She loves her unborn baby and can’t think of killing her (though, granted, it’s not because she believes abortion is wrong — she apparently doesn’t). Even more surprising for a teen novel, though, the book puts a strong emphasis on marriage and the stability, comfort, and support that it offers to both parties (as well as to children born to married parents). The love that Lucy and her husband develop and demonstrate is sweet, selfless, and based on friendship rather than lust (not to say they aren’t attracted to each other, of course!). I was impressed with the author’s willingness to do the un-PC thing and portray a well-balanced teen marriage in such a positive light. She does make an almost scrambling (and totally pointless) concession to political correctness when she makes a huge point of the fact that a very diverse crowd of ‘clergy’ was present at the marriage ceremony, thereby blessing the union. (Otherwise, religion doesn’t get more than a couple brief mentions.) But the book focuses thematically on the power of selfless love…and when that love exists in a marriage between the main characters of a teen novel, how could I not be impressed?
Content warning: This is one of those teen novels where the appropriateness depends a lot on the individual teen’s age and maturity. There is a non-graphic depiction of rape, as well as a few candid conversations about sex. Teen pregnancy is obviously central to the plotline. The mature content is treated in a manner that is very tame by adult-novel standards but may not be appropriate for younger teens.