(Actual rating: 2.5 stars)
I originally started writing this review when I was only three quarters of the way through Me, Him, Them, and It. The only positive thing I had to say about the book at that point was that it was well paced and didn’t drag on and on.
Now, after finishing the novel, I feel like I may need to reevaluate. It would be dishonest of me to say that the end of the story made me do a 180 and fall in love with the story, but I can tell you that the last 20 pages or so affected me more than the first 300 pages combined and actually had enough of an emotional impact to bring tears to my eyes.
Evelyn Jones, the story’s protagonist, is a good girl who decides to earn herself a bad reputation in order to gain her parents’ attention. This involves going to parties, smoking pot, and having sex with Todd, a football player at Evelyn’s school. Unfortunately for Evelyn, “Bad Evie” draws no more attention from her unhappily married parents than “Good Evie” did. At least, not until Evie gets pregnant.
Evie’s situation is both sad and infuriating; I simultaneously pitied her and wanted to shake her in frustration. On the one hand, it’s obvious that at her core Evie is just a scared little girl whose cold and lonely home life has made her desperate to be loved. Everyone from whom she seeks affection – her parents, her best friend, her not-quite-boyfriend – lets her down in some way. As Evie so poignantly asks at one point in the story, “Why are all the people who love me so bad at it?”
On the other hand, a good follow-up question might be, “And why are YOU so bad at loving people back, Evie?” Because as sorry as I feel for her, Evie’s messed up life doesn’t excuse how immature, stubborn, and childlike she is for the entirety of the novel. Instead of thinking carefully about the big decisions facing her as a result of her unplanned pregnancy, Evie shuts down and refuses take ownership of her choices or her future. She can’t be persuaded, bribed, cajoled, or forced to do anything but go through the motions of day-to-day life, turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the important things she needs to be doing or thinking about. There are many, MANY times when I wanted to smack her on the back of the head and yell, “Wake up! I know you’re hurting, but you need to think. You need to act. You need to care! This is your life!”
As angry as Evie made me, though, I have to admit that her immaturity and generally bad attitude are part of what gives Me, Him, Them, and It its air of authenticity. This is not a romanticized picture of teen pregnancy in which the baby-mama, baby-daddy, and their families put aside their differences to come together in harmony and support. This is a sad, honest, sometimes hopeful but more often painful account of what it means to bring a child into a world when the parents don’t have their lives and relationships figured out.
Now that I think about it, I realize that the above paragraph sums up the reason I didn’t give Me, Him, Them, and It three stars. The story is well-written, but Carter’s characters might just be TOO real. Real life can be messy and disappointing and full of people who let you down, and reading about this is just as unsatisfying as living it. For that reason, while I’m glad I did finish this book, it isn’t one of my favorites.