AUTHOR: Megan McCafferty
LENGTH: 336 pages (Paperback available on April 24, 2012)
SUMMARY: When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.
Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.
Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.
When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common. (Amazon book description)
REVIEW: This book is eerily believable. With television shows like Teen Moms garnering a large viewership, the instances of teen pregnancy are becoming ever-more common. And with any woman over 35 being classified as a ” mother of advanced age” and filed as an “at-risk” pregnancy, the idea that America’s youth could be responsible for the continuation of our species doesn’t seem that far-fetched. The characters in the book are the strongest element. Melody and Harmony are characterized effectively and even though one may be turned off at first by Harmony’s spiritual fervor, her intrinsic struggle against the strictures put upon her in her community will ring true with teens. Even those teens who are not particularly spiritual will relate to feeling confined and having choices taken from them as Harmony does. John Doe’s character is particularly intriguing – in a disturbing way. His “dedication” to his profession is creepy. And the objectification of both him, other Pro-Bumpers and pregnant-body image is scarily similar to how the human form is objectified in the media now. The book shows the alienation this objectification causes for those who don’t fit the formula. In addition, it takes this objectification one step further by having the girls judged on their potential to produce the perfect offspring for their “clients”.
I felt the overall plot of the book was somewhat predictable. From the moment Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep I thought there was a good chance she wouldn’t return to Goodside. I also knew that the misgivings Melody was having about her contract would ultimately end in her deciding not to follow through with it. Ultimately, I’m not sure this is a story that needed to be continued. While the message about objectification and body image is one to spark lots of conversation, I’m unsure as to how much more of Melody’s and Harmony’s story I’m interested in hearing.
BRIDGE: After starting this post as a pure review, I’ve had a few thoughts on how this could be used in the classroom. Paired with other novels dealing with body image, this book could be good fodder for classroom debate. Using this book in connection with other titles like Wintergirls, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, or Perfect, a great conversation about media and the way it portrays the human form and influences young people could be a great lesson.
READERS: This book will appeal mostly to female readers. Readers who enjoyed any of the titles I mentioned earlier would like this book. Also, students who enjoy dystopian settings or books incorporating futuristic technology would enjoy this book, too.
OTHER TITLES; All three books mentioned above would be good novels to direct readers to if they want other reads like Bumped. Megan McCafferty has also written the Jessica Darling series that begins with Sloppy Firsts if readers enjoy her writing.