Bumped, by Megan McCafferty


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Author’s website
Publication date – April 26, 2011

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

Thoughts: An infertility-causing virus that leaves reproduction in the hands of teenagers isn’t a new concept, but in the case of Bumped, McCafferty uses it to build a very interesting future society that incorporates little details that others might not even be aware they should consider. Such as this: if you’ve got teenagers, you’ve got slang. If you’ve got pop-culture, you’ve got music, which means you’ve got musicians. Who are these people? What words do they use? McCafferty takes this into account, creating slang that’s understandable enough for us but different enough to be recognized as the product of a different culture. After all, you don’t hear too many girls these days talk about their “breedy bits” or how they want to “bump-hump” their boyfriends while pregnant. Little details like this make a story complete, they make a world, they hint at an entire society and culture outside that of the characters we’re seeing.

Bumped is the story of two twin sisters who were seperated at birth. Melody, an attractive and intelligent teenager, is waiting for word to come in about her conception contract, which will tell her who’s going to impregnate her so that she can carry a baby to term and then give it to an infertile couple who have paid handsomely for the privilege, hoping the word comes soon because time’s ticking away in regard to just how long she can conceive before her reproductive system is rendered pointless. Then there’s Harmony, who grew up in a strict religious community that holds itself seperate from the rest of the world, where girls marry at age 13 (usually) and where women there still “pregg” into their 20s and 30s, their isolationism keeping the virus at bay. Harmony leaves her community to find her sister, and in so doing starts a chain of events that throws both of their lives for a loop.

Teen pregnancy is approached in such a way here that most people with a conservative bent would find it downright disturbing. Since teens are the only ones who really can reproduce, it naturally falls to them to do it. A lot. As much as they can, really, with some companies offering scholarships and free products to people who have many babies. This isn’t a big deal, since it’s not like the teen is saddled with the baby afterward; they all go to adoption agencies or sold at auction to couples who want a child to raise, and the natural bonding chemicals between mother and child are interrupted with medications. No fuss, no muss.

Happily, though, Harmony’s viewpoint of religious virtue is dealt with in the very same way that sexual freedom is: with equal parts good and bad. Harmony feel her religion deeply, prefering to dress modestly and pray because it gives her comfort and feelings of self-worth and protection, but dislikes the way that questions are discouraged and that somebody else will choose who she marries.

And of course, both Harmony and Melody have a dislike of the way people force others into situations without asking them what they want or if they’re ready, all under the guise of doing what’s best for them.

My biggest dislike in this book is the rather ambiguous character of Jondoe. He wears his masks well, to the point where I can’t get a handle on him. He admits to lying in order to get the job done, then expects the very people to which he admits that to trust him on nothing more than his word. The book ends on a cliffhanger, and I get the feeling that the reader is supposed to think that Jondoe does actually care for Harmony and wants to find her, but I have two problems with this. One I just mentioned. The other assumes that he does want to find her, which means he fell in love pretty much at first sight with somebody whom he believed to be somebody else, and I dislike that line of thinking. Given that this book has a sequel in the works, I’ll reserve final judgment until I’ve seen more, but I’m wary of him, and I don’t like him quite as much as I feel I’m expected to.

This is a book that teens on both sides of the modesty spectrum will be able to relate to. Ditto with opinions on teen pregnancy. McCafferty does a fantastic job of showing that there is no absolute right or wrong, but only opinion. Cultural relativism at its most accessible. Highly recommended, not just to teens but to those who want to take a stab at seeing a situation from both sides, taking each point as being just as valid as its opposition.

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