ARC REVIEW: 16 & Pregnant by LaLa Thomas


16 & Pregnant
by LaLa Thomas
Released January 3rd, 2023
Published by MTV Books
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary


The bond between two best friends is put to the test when one of them gets pregnant in this contemporary teen novel inspired by MTV’s iconic reality show.

Erykah was looking forward to junior year at East Prep High. She has a cute boyfriend, gets good grades, and has the best bestie. Money is tight, though that’s nothing new in her world. But everything changes when she gets pregnant. Having a baby at sixteen was definitely not part of the plan.

Kelly’s plan was to dominate junior year—grade-wise and on the basketball court—and eventually get an athletic scholarship. It did not include helping her best friend through a pregnancy. But that’s what best friends do, right? Besides, Kelly has every intention of being a good auntie.

As the two girls navigate the pregnancy, they’ll learn some harsh realities about the world and be forced to make some huge decisions. They’ll also discover a deep reserve of strength and compassion…for each other and themselves.

16 & Pregnant: A Novel honestly and openly explores pregnancy through the eyes of two young Black teens in modern-day Nevada. Debut author LaLa Thomas combines personal insights, heartfelt dialogue, and authentic emotions in this powerful portrait of American teen life.

Trigger/Content Warning(s): Abortion, Friendship Break-Up (Minor), Underage Drinking (Minor), Underage Drug-Use (Minor), Teen Pregnancy, Poor Treatment by Medical Staff, Vomiting (Moderate)


Disclaimer: I was provided a digital galley via Edelweiss+ for the purpose of reviewing. This does not affect my opinion.

16 & Pregnant is a wonderful exploration of teen friendship’s ups and downs, romantic and platonic relationships, and pregnancy. Each turned page was a brilliant show of craftsmanship, and I could not get enough!

LaLa Thomas had me hooked on this story from the very first sentence. Immediately, I was attached to her writing style and the ways in which she wove this book. I could not keep my eyes off the page, and I found it hard to have to put the book down. It gave the sense that I needed to take every word in one session, but at the same time, I needed to take the time to digest and continue later.

Erykah–known as “E” throughout the book–and her best friend Kelly have to be two of my top favorite main characters, so far, this year. Erykah was strong-willed and determined to do right by herself and her decisions. While she may have gone about it in difficult ways, she made it clear that she would be steady in her decision, and that she would not let anyone talk her out of it. I really enjoyed this about her, and I found that–throughout the story–she went through a lot of character development. The girl she was at the beginning of the book stayed until the end, but she had changed to mature more and understand what she needed to adjust going forward in her life.

Kelly, I loved, for similar reasons. She and Erykah are similar in the sense that they are both stubborn, both set in their ways. But where Erykah felt secure in certain decisions, Kelly felt secure in others. I really liked that Thomas gave us the dual POV and different, very difficult decisions both of these characters made, and I enjoyed the discussion that came out of their situations. It is difficult to make either decision the girls did, and to have written it with no shame administered, no judgment handed off was really special and welcome.

The plot in this story did take me a bit by surprise. I was able to guess early on a certain plot twist that came about, but the way in which it came out did surprise me and was different from what I had in mind. Thomas crafted the point and direction of this story beautifully, and I found it hard to not crave more.

Adding on, I am a real stickler for pacing. Thomas swayed me with hers, as this book went quick, but not in a way that overwhelmed or took away from the overall writing. It was easy to become enveloped in the story, and easy to digest. I find that is becoming harder to find, with books becoming slower-paced in this genre. These quick reads that address slightly heavier topics while still being enjoyable and fun are much needed and welcomed, and I loved my experience while reading.

My one dislike stemmed from the ending. As a reader, it felt just a bit too cookie-cutter for my liking. I did not enjoy the several time jumps, and I wish there had been a more drawn-out, explored ending that did not come in separate segments.

Overall, I thoroughly loved this book. It has easily made its way onto my favorites list, and I do look forward to seeing more from LaLa Thomas in the future. For that, I give it a starred rating. I implore everyone to turn your attention to 16 & Pregnant and give it a read–I promise, it is completely worth it.

Separators (1)

DELETELaLa Thomas is a professor, scholar, combat Army veteran, English teacher, and an author of multiple genres. After her first years of teaching and mentoring in one of the most struggling school districts in the nation, she decided to use those experiences and create stories through characters who represent young Black voices. LaLa calls two places home: the fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, and Harlem, New York. She is a proud Afro-Caribbean American, who is thankful for all the gifts her ancestors have given her. LaLa and her divine daughter, Aazariah Dior (a.k.a. “Z”), currently live in downtown San Francisco.

Liked this post? Please consider supporting me on Ko-Fi!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s