Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir By: Gaby Rodriguez


         Stereotyping. It’s something we all do both anonymously and verbaly. Many don’t understand what exactly it can lead to, but In this novel, Gaby Rodriguez opens our eyes during a praise-worthy social experiment that wasn’t just as senior project. Growing up in a severely poor neighborhood was hard enough, but Gaby’s mother got pregnant at fourteen, and all six of her siblings became parents at sixteen. Living under other’s expectations left it’s mark, which meant that our heroine had to work hard to be on the Honor Roll and in Advanced Placement classes. All her life, she had been told to focus on school, but Gaby wanted to help her community and to gain an understanding of teen moms. So, out of her head jumped a brilliant idea: fake a pregnancy. This, I had to admit, was one of the best I’ve ever heard. What better way to learn the meaning of actual friends and stereotypes then to become one? After approval, Gaby started in October, so that it could end before the baby showers in April. With only her boyfriend, Jorge, her mom, and a friend knowing, she lit the match, and it turned into a roaring fire. Yes, this actually happened, which is the best part.
        At first, it was all just little hints leading up to the announcement in December. Eating healthier, morning sickness, but that was nothing compared to the comments made from both teachers and students. Yes, some teachers were supportive, but apparently the mature quality in some wasn’t present. All through the six months, Gaby and her allies gathered data from the entire school. before I even picked this up, or watched the movie, I knew what people would say, I knew that they would be surprised, and I knew how they would act in the end. However, all of the negative attention was good in order for the experiment to be successful, not that it would be hard to obtain it. First month, from students included, “Now she won’t go to college. . . Oh, well, it was bound to happen. . . Her [Gaby] life is over. . .I wonder if she’ll even graduate. . .her boyfriend's going to bail,” (pg.80). Other’s were easy to classify her as another statistic, even though she was still maintaining a 3.8 GPA; she didn’t somehow change into someone else at one point, either. Mostly behind her back, but also to her face, 99% of the school were jerks, which was no surprise, in any way; not all teachers can be that mature.
        Minus all the dirty looks and constant staring to her belly, not her face , where she is, her belly, Gaby was cringing. This whole ordeal took it’s tole on her emotions, and she started to have actual mood swings. Which means, of course, that by the time the presentation came around, Gaby couldn’t be happier to take off her fake baby. The assembly included comments read from index cards, statistic numbers, a look at how people are categorized, videos on stereotyping, and of course, the big reveal. Another non-surprising time: the whole audience treated it like another boring public service announcement given by someone incredibly irresponsible, until Gaby took her belly off. At first, there was well-deserved applause and a standing ovation, but, as anyone could probably guess, almost everyone felt more than a little betrayed. “Do you know how dumb you made people feel when they thought they felt a heartbeat or a foot?” said Gaby’s ‘friend’ Alex. Well, you were dumb to think that Gaby couldn’t escape what the rest of her family went through. Also, it’s your fault for not standing by her when others gave her crap. So, what kind of ‘friend’ are you if you didn’t accept the ‘pregnancy’? They don’t have a right to feel betrayed. Okay, maybe a little, but they don’t have a right to give our heroine crap after it. One boy who at the beginning said that the project was boring said after, “I knew that bitch wasn’t pregnant. That girl’s a fucking liar!” (pg.111)  He had never talked to her before, which meant that he was in no way affected. So, why all the negativity? On the plus side, about ¼ of the school congratulated and praised Gabby, and they got something out of the assembly; especially the seven girls who were actually pregnant. The teachers joked about their classes wanting to fake a suicide, which wasn’t funny. At all. Just jackassery. The aftermath wasn’t as painful as the six months, but the publicity was still overwhelming: every TV show network and newspaper reporter wanted to have an interview. That, naturally led to the thought that Gaby did this for attention, and to those people I say go to hell.
        Before reading, I watched the movie on Lifetime that is based on this book. I have to admit, that how people acted in the movie was in no way different. It was exactly the same, even the fake suicide idea. Now, in the book, it gives more background on Gaby’s family: the pregnancies and how her alcoholic brother ruined her Qinceanera, a Latin-version of a sweet sixteen except at fifteen. It explains the emotional roller-coaster that Juana Rodriquez went through with her high-school boyfriend/husband, and how each of her kids had their kids. In the movie, it just starts with the project idea, and the reasons why. Also, in the movie, Gaby becomes friends with Jenna Glatzer, who actually was pregnant. Fortunately, after the assembly, they still remained friends, and Gaby wanted to start a program for teen moms, so that they can have normal lives without abortions. The book didn’t mention a forged friendship with Jenna, but she was given recognition. I can’t express how much this book is awesome, and not only because it’s a true story. It gives insight into the life of a teen mother, and what they battle everyday. “Lets see what kind of mom she [Gaby] really is after Jorge leaves her. She’s going to be a single mom with nothing, and then we’ll see what she thinks about having a kid.” commented by one of Gaby’s ‘friends’. A real, true friend is what teen mom’s need to make it through, because if everyone puts them down, then what effect do you think that’s going to have? It’s an abortion waiting to happen. This book, and myself, aren’t saying that getting pregnant young is a good idea or that it can’t be prevented, but once it’s done, it’s done, and support is what’s needed. And that message about stereotypes, and Gaby’s whole experience, deserves to be shared, which is why everyone should read this. We all do it, we’re human.

Will be revised soon.