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Girls in Trouble: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Caroline Leavitt
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Macmillan
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How to Start a Fire
Anna, Kate and Georgiana have been bosom buddies since their salad days at University of California at Santa Cruz: This novel follows the three adventurous women into middle age. Read about the author, Lisa Lutz

Book Description

Sara is sixteen and pregnant. Her once-devoted boyfriend seems to have disappeared, so she decides her best and only option is an open adoption with George and Eva, a couple desperate for a child. After the birth it's clear Sara has a bond with the child that Eva can't seem to duplicate. When it seems that Sara cannot let go, Eva and George make a drastic decision, with devastating consequences for all of them.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Leavitt's uneven but earnest eighth novel examines the emotional price a bright Massachusetts teen pays when she chooses "open" adoption for a baby she gives birth to at 16. It's 1987, and smart Sara Rothman has fallen in love with "black sheep" Danny Slade. When he vanishes after learning she's pregnant, Sara gives the baby up. Leavitt (Coming Back to Me) poignantly depicts the consequences of that choice for everyone concerned: Sara, who misses her baby and Danny both; Abby and Jack, Sara's well-meaning parents; Danny, the young father; George and Eva Rivers, the attentive but naive adoptive couple; and Anne, the child. At first, Sara visits the Riverses daily-she loves Anne, and the Riverses had cared for her while she was pregnant. But her presence becomes intrusive, and eventually, Eva takes a stand: "We adopted Anne," she tells Sara. "We didn't adopt you." Sara then makes a desperate attempt to steal the infant, and when she's found, the Riverses move and deny Sara visiting rights ("Open adoptions are only enforceable in Oregon," a lawyer tells her). Fifteen years pass, and Leavitt's focus wavers; a fuzzy reunion between Danny and Sara is particularly unconvincing. The novel's portrait of dreamy, adolescent Anne and her relationship with the older Riverses is sharper, as is the realistic, bumpy reunion of birth mother and daughter. An unflinching depiction of maternal need and the dynamics of adoption, this tale is a sharp reminder of the importance of honesty in life decisions.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Girls in Trouble flaunts "all the ingredients for a Lifetime television drama" (The Pittsburgh Post Gazette). In this earnest but uneven work, that's a compliment. Reviewers agree that Leavitt's eighth novel skips over one decisive event too lightly, then unconvincingly leaps forward 15 years. Leavitt has mined this territory before--the slow maturation of a lovesick girl. It's not a very remarkable journey, but the author handles it with sensitivity. The Washington Post calls Girls "a canny portrait of the trouble perfectly ordinary people can get into while trying to satisfy their perfectly ordinary needs for love and security and happiness." It's sure to appeal to Jacquelyn Mitchard fans.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 532 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0312271220
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC0YX6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,824 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! January 3, 2004
Caroline Leavitt -the author of this book is one girl who is not in trouble. Her sensitive portrayal of a birth mother and an adoptive mother and the tragedy and escasty of what brings them together and then drives them apart is an outstanding accomplishment. Managing to never dismiss or diminish the emotions of any of the so true to life characters in this novel, Leavitt keeps the reader engrossed and caring, and at least for this reader, occassionally crying.
Leavitt, author of seven previous novels, wings her way effortlessly through a laybrinth of emotion that never gets cloying as it illuminates the conflicts of the human heart.
Well done. A breakout novel if there ever was one.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great topic for a book club discussion July 29, 2004
The subjects of teenage pregancy and open adoption are sure to push alot of buttons during any group discussion, and the author certainly provides plenty of fodder for conversation. I felt for the character of Sara; young and intellegent with nothing but promise and success maped out in her future, she finds herself deep in the throws of adolescent love with a boy from the "wrong side of the tracks". An unplanned pregnancy results and Sara for all her intellegence childishly chooses to ignore things until too late. She proceeds with an open adoption which of course we know is headed for disaster. I thought the issues of maternal devotion and insecurity(by both the birth and adopted mothers), were accurately portrayed and painfully realistic. The birth father appears to have no interest in the child and although Sara is forced to move on with her life, she is never fully able to let go of the baby she left behind. The book provides a satisfying conclusion (no sugar coating here), on what is a complicated and emotionally laden issue. There are no winners here just a oddly comprised "family" struggling to make a life for themselves. A few of the characters were fairly weak (Sara's parents were paper thin, and Danny's mother was a little sterotypical), but overall a good effort by this author.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
You would think that a book on the subject of a troubled open adoption would be terribly depressing, but even though I was going through issues while reading this book for the first time three years ago, it isn't. There is something remarkably hopeful and uplifting in this book, a kind of sense that love really is timeless and all encompassing and there is always hope in the end for a good result. You don't have to be a sixteen year old with a baby to get the message of this book.

This book is a story about a young girl named Sara, who is smart, bookish and shy. And then she meets Danny, who is everything she is not. Incredibly, he loves her. But as soon as the two 15 year olds find out that she is pregnant, everything goes to hell. Danny disappears and Sara is left too pregnant for an abortion with her parents, who only want for her to give up the baby for adoption and move on with her brilliant life and plans.

Here come in Eva and George, two loving, caring, people in their forties who want a baby and cannot have one. So they decide to adopt. During Sara's pregnancy they are everything her parents are not. Supportive and kind they become a kind of extra-parent set for Sara. But as soon as her baby, Anne, is born, things change. Eva and George want time with their baby, but Sara can't stop loving her child, or the adoptive parents. Soon this escalates to jealousy, confrontation, fighting, and a decision that changes five lives forever. The "girls in trouble" of the title refers not only to the old saying used for pregnant teens in the 50's, but to the consequences of the decision on Sara and Anne.

The plot sounds depressing and sad and a little hopeless, but this is about, almost, absolution for our faults and coming full circle after great trial and trauma.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On par with... June 15, 2004
...Barbara Kingsolver! Girls in Trouble grabbed me the way the Bean Trees did. Only this isn't Caroline Leavitt's first novel, you've got 7 more to enjoy after she hooks you with the latest. I do not use the word "hooks" lightly. I read Girls in Trouble on a flight from Los Angeles to Denver, and for the first time in my over travelled life was disappointed that the flight was not longer, long enough at least to finish this gripping story. Most every one has asked themselves a question that begins with, "How would I feel if..." and most women have asked themselves the question, "How would I feel if I got pregnant?" "What would I do?" It is admittedly one of the most personally and politically charged questions of our time. In Girls in Trouble, Caroline Leavitt involves us in the both agonizing and joyful struggle of one girl's attempt to answer it. For immediate purchase and enjoyment only.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly wonderful read July 6, 2004
I loved this book. I started it and immediatly got sucked in. The story is so raw and beautifully written. I could not stand putting the book down. Caroline Leavitt knows how to write about a touchy issue with great knowledge and care. The characters are so rich and full of depth. There are no winners or losers in the book. It is easy to identify and support each character in the choices that they make, even if the choices are not easy or what would be deemed by some as the right choices to make. "Girls in Trouble" is wonderful, and I wish the story never ended. It is a beautiful read. Flawless.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book.
Published 9 months ago by Barbara Gaffron
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good story, some grammatical and spelling errors.
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars I read this for our book club. It was ...
I read this for our book club. It was an interesting and quick read. Even though this is a fictional read it gives young women a lot of food for thought.
Published 11 months ago by Elizabeth Donahoe
5.0 out of 5 stars girls in trouble
great book! This author writes in the style of Jody Piccoult. All of her books are different but very good.
Published 13 months ago by Roxie
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story
Wonderful slice of life story, believable and honest No victims, no evil doers - just people facing normal issues. Not my first Caroline Leavitt story and not my last. Read more
Published 15 months ago by LDLewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
This novel is fantastic. The author understands women (and men) and the complexities of stages of life, and also the complexities and innuendo of adoption. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Deborah J. Ling
5.0 out of 5 stars Not so open adoption!
I thought this was a great book.The characters in this book were so well written.The author got into each person to their soul. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Dayna Vanover
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Summer Read
About a few chapters into the book I realized that I had read this before, but finished it up and liked it just as much the second time. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Lisa
3.0 out of 5 stars KDH Reviews: Girls in Trouble
Rating 3.5/5 stars

I found the writing in this book a little, for lack of a better word, weird. It didn't feel as polished or as smooth as I expected. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Kayla Harrison
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good Caroline Leavitt read
Caroline Leavitt has moved onto my list of favorite authors. In this she tackles open adoption. The perspective of the various mothers involved - birth mother, adoptive mother,... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

I'm the New York Times Bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You, and the award-winning author of eight other novels. Pictures of You was a Costco "Pennie's Pick," a San Francisco Chronicle Lit Pick, and it was also on many Best of 2011 lists, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Providence Journal, Bookmarks Magazine, and Kirkus Reviews, which also put the novel on their Top Five Novels about Family and Love list. My 10th novel IS THIS TOMORROW, about a missing child in a 1950s suburb, will be published by Algonquin Books in May 2013. I've been writing since I was in grade school (I was the one who made up books and then wrote book reports for them.) I always knew I wanted to be a writer, though being a screenwriter came in a close second. I live for books and the movies and I teach writing at UCLA and Stanford online, have private clients, and I'm a book critic for People, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe. I'm deliriously happily married to the writer Jeff Tamarkin (his book, Got A Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane, was one of the top music books of the year) and we have a teenaged son.

Please follow me on twitter at @leavittnovelist and on Facebook at
My website is

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