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by Naomi Danis

Girl Heroines in 1930s Shanghai, 1938 Vienna, 1950s New York, 2011 Narita, 2011 Baltimore and Atlanta

In the 1950s, in McCarthy-era New York, the political activist father of high school junior Jamie has just gotten out of jail. Despite a lot of frank and caring talk within the extended Jewish family, the shame and isolation of teenagers — Jamie and her close friend — loom large. Set in an era when abortion was illegal and dangerous, In Trouble (Carolrhoda, $17.95), by Ellen Levine, is an engaging and sobering novel. Jamie’s Catholic friend Elaine confides in her, and uses her as a cover to spend time secretly with her college-age boyfriend. Elaine persists in believing he will marry her, even though he disappears once the reality of her pregnancy sinks in. Jamie hesitantly seeks advice on behalf of her friend, who, to Jamie’s consternation, wants to keep her baby. As the book unfolds, we learn that Jamie has her own traumas. In a note, Levine reminds us that, even in the 21st century, the options available to girls facing unwanted pregnancies are under threat.

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