Celebrating the midwives in teen fiction

You may not think that teen fiction and midwifery go together, but here are a couple of books that might make you re-think that assumption.

BirthmarkedBirthmarked by Caragh O’Brien is a dystopian novel for teens set in a future world that has been ravaged by the effects of climate change.  Sixteen-year-old Gaia is an apprentice midwife to her mother, but when her parents are taken to the Enclave for questioning, she is the only midwife left in her small village.  She is responsible for all the births and making sure that the babies are forwarded to the upper class who live within the walls of the Enclave.  The book opens with the birth of a baby girl.  It is the first birth Gaia attends on her own, and she is faced with questions of right and wrong right away as she has to take the baby from the mother. Gaia is a strong young woman, and she fights hard for what she believes is right once she figures out what that is. If you are a fan of dystopian novels like The Hunger Games or Matched, this book is for you.

Fact of Life #31Fact of Life #31 by Denise Vega also opens with a childbirth scene.  Kat has been working at her mother’s midwifery for a year, and in an emergency, she is pulled into a birth.  Kat describes her mother, Abra, during the birth: “I turned and watched Abra as she moved between tasks, so fluidly she hardly seemed to be moving at all. I thought of that phrase ‘ she was in her element.’ But here in this room, with the shades drawn and a few candles flickering, Abra was more than that–she was the element.  I’d seen her at the office, but never at a birth, never like this–a person who moved with grace and perfect timing, anticipating, checking, doing.  Always doing the right thing.”  Kat is so overwhelmed with the perfect image she has of her mother that she freezes up when she is needed to assist, and she loses her confidence.  Later a pregnant teen from Kat’s high school comes to Abra for advice and the two become close, which doesn’t sit well with Kat.  One review of this book called it chick lit with “an earthy, New Age sensibility.”

Both are great books for those who are interested in midwifery or just want a good story, whether teens or adults. They are great choices for National Midwifery Month!  Don’t forget to share what midwifery means to you on the Ode to Midwifery thread.

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