PRH Children's signs Wilson's 'heart-breaking' YA novel about teen pregnancy

PRH Children's signs Wilson's 'heart-breaking' YA novel about teen pregnancy

Penguin Random House Children’s has scooped Baby Love, Jacqueline Wilson's "moving" YA novel about teen pregnancy, family trouble and unlikely friendships.

Kelly Hurst, editorial director, bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Caroline Walsh at David Higham Associates. The novel will publish under the Penguin imprint on 17th March 2022, with cover and chapter head illustrations by Rachael Dean.

Set in 1960, the novel is described as "a heartbreaking, compelling and timely story" for readers aged 12+, and follows Laura who falls for Leon, a French exchange student. 

"She’s never had any sort of boyfriend before," the synopsis reads. "One night Leon insists on walking Laura home – and her life changes for ever. Things start to change for Laura – first her moods, and then her body. Laura isn't prepared for what she learns next - and doesn't even quite understand how it could have happened.

"When her family realise she is pregnant, they are horrified. They send her away to a Mother & Baby Home to have the baby and give it up for adoption. There Laura meets girls like her, who have been sent away by their families – and they become a family for each other at the most difficult time in all their lives."

At the height of the 1960s, more than 16,000 British babies were adopted, many against the will of their birth mothers. The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights is currently holding an inquiry into the forced adoption of babies of unmarried mothers during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Commenting on Baby Love, Hurst said: "Jacqueline Wilson is a true icon of children’s publishing, a trusted voice who has helped children navigate difficult subjects for decades but is still constantly innovating. We are so proud to publish this moving book about teenage pregnancy, motherhood and adoption in the 1960s, which gives a voice to girls like Laura who had little choice in how their lives turned out.

The book also features a postscript, authored by Adoption UK offering advice and support to anyone affected by the issues in the novel.

Wilson said of her new book: "I wrote Baby Love to show how different life was back in 1960. I still remember it vividly. If a young teenage girl became pregnant she would usually be sent to a Mother & Baby Home and coerced into giving up her baby for adoption. It seems horrifying now, especially as women my age are still grieving for their lost children. My heart goes out to them."