A review by Nalini Haynes
Format: paperback, 231 pages
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Rosie is a teenager in her final year of high school. She likes Michael, a boy in her grade. They go to the beach and have unprotected sex. The next time they have sex, it’s in Rosie’s bed — and they’re so excited they forget to use a condom again.
Afterwards, they’re careful to use condoms every time.
Pity it’s too late.
Rosie’s best friend is Liv, who she’s known since kindergarten humiliation. Thing is, Liv is the school bike (everyone has had a ride). Michael doesn’t like Rosie hanging out with Liv in case she’s tainted by association. But it’s Liv who buys Rosie the pregnancy test kit.
Rosie and Michael both come from religious families who attend church on Sunday and who are expert at lying to themselves and each other.
When Rosie realizes she’s pregnant, she tells Michael who rejects her. Rosie then pretends she’s not pregnant. To maintain this fiction, Rosie cuts all ties with Liv.
What unfolds is a tragedy of two young lives ruined because of secrets and lies.
Most characters are fairly two-dimensional, lacking motive for their impact upon the story. A Small Madness is compelling although Rosie’s extreme condition in the conclusion pushes the envelop too far, detracting from the “every teenager” aspect of the story. The story was short and sharp with good pacing. A Small Madness is an excellent diving platform from which to begin discussions with teenagers, in families and in the broader community. Discussions of safe sex, safety nets, the importance of communication, the importance of speaking up, adoption, abortion and legislation concerning these issues.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars