Saying Good-bye to London by Julie Burtinshaw

Saying Good-bye to London

Julie Burtinshaw, Author

Second Story Press, Fiction, Mar. 14, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 13 and up

Themes: Teen pregnancy, Family relationships, Friendships, Adoption

Synopsis: One night of unprotected sex can change your life forever. Francis Sloan is a shy 15-year-old when he meets edgy, confident 16-year-old Sawyer at a party he didn’t want to attend. Sparks fly…and Sawyer becomes pregnant. They barely know each other, but now must deal with both their relationship and the reality of a baby.

Francis has a lot of growing up to do, and now it seems like he is being forced to do it all at once. When his life collides with Sawyer’s, Francis is forced to confront his own stereotypes about loss, sexuality, and family.

Sawyer decides to give the baby up for adoption, but that’s just the start. Over the months they wait for the baby to be born, Francis and Sawyer try to deal with the choices they will have to make. Will Francis follow Sawyer’s brave example? Or will he turn his back and pretend his life has not changed? Where will they be when it’s time to say good-bye to baby London?

Why I like this book:

Julie Burtinshaw’s Saying Good-bye to London is a heart-wrenching  and emotional story about teen pregnancy with a contemporary appeal. It is a hopeful and optimistic story that challenges teens with the same tough questions that Sawyer and Francis face.

This story is character-driven. Francis is a shy, lanky, and likable character who plays basketball with his best friend, Kevin. At  fifteen, girls scare him. He’s naïve and never been on a date. He lives on the West side of Vancouver, comes from a stable and loving family, and attends a private boy’s school. Sawyer Martin is a year older than Francis. She is self-confident, independent, and has her own unique flare.  She is brave, resilient and vulnerable. Sawyer lives on the other side of Vancouver with her mother. They live in a small apartment and she attends public school. When Sawyer becomes pregnant, Francis is angry, scared, blames her and disappears from her life. Sawyer deals with her tears and growing baby bump alone.

There are many interesting themes in this novel, beyond teen pregnancy. Kevin’s father is dying from cancer. Francis’s family has twin adopted brothers from Africa. Sawyer’s best friend, Jack, is gay, has an abusive and homophobic father who kicks him out of the house. Sawyer’s father left and she’s being raised by her single mother. The author has woven these subtle themes into the story and they contribute to the important decisions that Sawyer and Francis make for baby London.

The plot is unique and very different from other novels I’ve read about teen pregnancy. The author does give a realistic account of Sawyer’s pregnancy from morning sickness to delivery.  But the main focus of the story is on how Sawyer, Francis, Jack, Kevin and Sawyer’s mother, work together with an adoption agency to select, interview and choose the right family for baby London. It honors the brave and mature decisions that Sawyer, Francis and their friends make together.

I recommend this book because it challenges teens and is an excellent discussion book. It is also a page-turner.

Julie Burtinshaw is an ward-winning author of novels for young adults, including The Darkness Between the Stars, The Perfect Cut, The Freedom of Jenny, Adrift, and Dead Reckoning. You can find Julie on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @WriterJulie.

Check other Middle Grade review links on author Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

22 thoughts on “Saying Good-bye to London by Julie Burtinshaw

  1. A gripping well told story for sure, but I’ll probably leave it for the middle school audience rather than middle grade. I might read this myself just to see how the author develops the characters. Thanks for the recommend!

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  2. Thanks for a thought-provoking review of a difficult subject. I have read some of this author’s work before and she writes about teenage issues with empathy.

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    • This story is very different, characters are well-developed and you see them grow, and the ending is very meaningful. Glad to know you’re an adoptive mother. Thanks for your comment about Nicole.

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  3. I have read a few YA novels about teen pregnancy (Beth Kephart’s is one of my favorites) but this does sound quite different, partly because the authors seems to have woven several themes into the one book. Thanks, Pat.

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    • And, you would especially like the ending — a twist that follows your book interests. I also like Sharon Draper’s novel ‘November Blues.” Will have to read Beth Kephart’s book.

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  4. Sounds like a very moving story and one I would love to read. Must look for this. Also sounds like a very moving time for you and your daughter. Wishing all good things for you all as your daughter gets to know her sisters. Keep in touch. Hugs.

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  5. Wow-I certainly never had a book like this to read when I was in middle school or high school. And yet I feel like a well written and strong characterized book like this one should be at least in every high school library. Thanks for this wonderful review.

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    • I am glad you enjoyed the review. It is so current. I’m with you, they didn’t have books like this when I was in school (taboo) and when we were adopting our children 33 years ago. So much has changed. My daughter just found out her birth mother’s name and located two sisters last weekend. She’s going to meet one of the sisters this weekend. Hope it works out. In a matter of one week, she has a lot of answers and photos.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ohhh, Patricia. That’s a lot to take in. For your daughter, and for you. Hope it all turns out. I have a friend who adopted a son when he was a week old. The mother had two other children and couldn’t handle/afford the third, so asked my friend to never tell this child about his brothers. He is now 25. He still doesn’t know, but boy, I think that’s a difficult choice.

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