Friday, May 25, 2012

The Pregnancy Project

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoirby Gaby Rodriguez with Jenna Glatzer
Published by Simon and Schuster
224 pages

Publisher's Description:For her required senior project, Gaby Rodriguez decided to fake a pregnancy to get an inside view of what it's like to deal with the pressures and stereotypes of being a teen mom. The inspiration for the project came from her own mother, who became pregnant with her first child in 8th grade, and her older sisters, who all had children of their own as teenagers.

It started as a school project…but turned into so much more.
Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. After all, her mother and her older sisters had gotten pregnant as teenagers; from an outsider’s perspective, it was practically a family tradition. Gaby had ambitions that didn’t include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she “lived down” to others' expectations? Would everyone ignore the years she put into being a good student and see her as just another pregnant teen statistic with no future? These questions sparked Gaby’s school project: faking her own pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever, and made international headlines in the process.

In The Pregnancy Project, Gaby details how she was able to fake her own pregnancy—hiding the truth from even her siblings and boyfriend’s parents—and reveals all that she learned from the experience. But more than that, Gaby’s story is about fighting stereotypes, and how one girl found the strength to come out from the shadow of low expectations to forge a bright future for herself.

My Comments:

Faking the pregnancy wasn't easy; she found mentors to coach her on the symptoms that accompany each stage of pregnancy, enlisted a friend as well as her boyfriend to help spread rumors and act along with her, and built a realistic fake belly with some help from her mother. In addition to dealing with negative stereotypes, she also had to face the disappointment of her older siblings and teachers, some of whom were angry when they found out she'd lied to them.

Rather than composing a simple narrative of her life during the project, Rodriguez lays out her family history, how the project itself came about, and the media frenzy that ensued when she revealed her ruse at a school assembly. Those expecting the story to focus solely on her experiences during the fake pregnancy may be disappointed, but the "whys" behind the project, as well as the results, are clearly important. Rodriguez'writing is plain, but her story is compelling.

Her story has also been made into a Lifetime original movie (as advertised on the book's cover):