An Unplanned Pregnancy Changes the Course of a Girl’s Future In This Excerpt From Plan A

Books Features Deb Caletti
An Unplanned Pregnancy Changes the Course of a Girl’s Future In This Excerpt From Plan A

If it feels like there are more stories about abortion than ever these days, it’s probably because there are. But that’s also because there is truly no more important time to give voice to the stories and experiences related to women’s healthcare and reproductive freedom than now, when so many of those rights are under threat across America each and every day. Stories, after all, not only help us to relate to people and experiences different from our own but to see the human impact of laws like abortion bans, which may not affect us individually due to our own circumstances of birth or location. Such is the cast with Deb Caletti’s Plan A, a YA novel about an unplanned pregnancy that wrestles with a situation that will likely feel all too familiar to young women of today.

From the acclaimed author of A Heart in a Body in the World, this deft, necessary exploration of love, trauma, autonomy, and choice could not be more timely. The story of a pregnant Texas teenager who must undertake a road trip to access an abortion, Plan A wrestles with questions of autonomy, choice, and healing along the way, without ever judging its heroine for her feelings or fears.

Here’s how the publisher describes the book.

Ivy can’t entirely believe it when the plus sign appears on the test. She didn’t even know it was possible from . . . what happened. But it is, and now she is, and instead of spending the summer working at the local drugstore and swooning over her boyfriend, Lorenzo, suddenly she’s planning a cross-country road trip to her grandmother’s house on the West Coast, where she can legally obtain an abortion.

Escaping her small Texas town and the judgment of her friends and neighbors, Ivy hits the road with Lorenzo, who, determined to make the best of their “abortion road trip love story,” has transformed the journey into a whirlwind tour of the world: all the way from Paris, Texas, to Rome, Oregon . . . and every rest-stop diner and corny roadside attraction along the way.

And while Ivy can’t run from the incessant pressure of others’ opinions about her body or from her own expectations and insecurities, she discovers a new world of healing and hope. As the women she encounters share their stories, she chips away at the stigma, silence, and shame surrounding reproductive rights while those collective experiences guide her to her own rightful destination.

Plan A will hit shelves on October 3, but we’ve got an early look at this extremely timely YA story right now. 



It’s actually kind of nice out there by the Eiffel Tower. Peyton’s cousin from the UK thought it was laugh­ able when we brought him, because it’s so much shorter than the real thing. He said it’s ten times smaller than the one in Las Vegas, too, which was pretty rude, if you ask me. Another opinion I have—if you visit someone, you should remember that their town is their home. And, okay, it’s only about two and a half flagpoles high, but so what.

The tower has a red cowboy hat on top, and there’s a long brick walkway leading to it, and trees all around, and well­kept grass. There’s a war memorial nearby, and the con­ vention center is there, too. It’s all on the outskirts of town, which is why we like to meet there. You mostly only see tourists taking photos, and not even many of those. When you lie on your back and gaze skyward, if you ignore the red cowboy hat perched at a carefree angle at the top, you can almost imagine that you’re in the real, actual Paris, in spite of the fact that you’re surrounded by a huge parking lot where kids come to spin out and burn rubber in their fathers’ trucks.

I’m there first, so I head to our favorite tree at the far­ right leg of the tower. In an oblong circle of shade, I spread out the blue­and­orange Houston Astros blanket, the one that Dad left behind when he and Mom got divorced. He’s the only one in our family who likes sports. Some part of my brain refuses to remember whether the Astros are basket­ball or baseball, the way Mom can forget east and west, and Mason can forget how to spell friend. Then again, I don’t watch any games, Mom misses the Oregon Coast, and Mase is an introverted kid, even though he always says, Alone doesn’t mean lonely.

I hear Lorenzo’s truck before I see it. That Avalanche rumbles like an avalanche. Lorenzo parks next to Mr. Smi­ ley. I wave to him when he spots me, but he only lifts one hand, like he’s swearing to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

He lopes across the grass, a goofy gazelle. Lorenzo is tall, and sometimes his limbs seem to have a mind of their own. Damn, it’s so awkward and sexy, and I feel so sad because I’m about to destroy him.

Lorenzo is carrying two Gatorade bottles, still united in beverage matrimony by their plastic rings, and it’s my fa­ vorite flavor, orange. He’s also got a package of those ex­ pensive Pepperidge Farm cookies, the ones that sit in fancy, ruffly paper cups. They’re my favorite kind, too, Geneva, oval crunchies with chocolate and nuts, but I like all the ones named after cities, Brussels and Milano, too. Lorenzo’s face, though—it looks strained. His eyes are some mix of horror and pleading.

And I don’t know how to explain it, but I suddenly feel a calm resolve. Maybe it’s just relief that someone else will finally know and that I won’t be alone in this circle of hell. I remember after my mom told me and Mase about The Beast, she said, I was so afraid to tell you both, but I feel so much better now that you know, and I totally see what she meant.

“Hey,” he says. 


 Lorenzo folds his legs underneath him and sits on the Astros blanket. “I brought . . .” He swallows. He’s having a hard time speaking, like maybe he might burst into tears. He’s not one of those guys who think they shouldn’t cry. He thinks it shows strength not to have to show strength.

“Um,” I say. Not a particularly strong start. I pull a blade of grass and then examine it. It’s beautiful, with its grass spine and grass wings. Nature is so symmetrical and perfect in ways humans never are. “I have to tell you something.”

Lorenzo shakes his head, stares at the metal grid of the tower because he can’t look at me. So, at first, I tell his pro­ file, until he can’t help it, and his eyes study my face. When I’m done, he flings himself up, knocking over the Gatorade bottles and scrunching up his side of the blanket. He’s more upset than I’ve ever seen him before. Well, in the short while I’ve known him.

He stalks away, paces in front of the tower. Way over here, I can still hear him. “Fuck, man! Fuck!” he rants, going back and forth like that old guy who hangs out by the court­ house, carrying the sign that says he is coming.

But then Lorenzo returns. I could understand if he didn’t, but he does. I feel weirdly calm, though maybe numb is the better word. “Are you mad at me?” I ask.

“At you? No. No, of course not! I just—”

“I’m so sorry. How could I let this happen? How, how? I don’t know what’s wrong with me. What is wrong with me?” My head is in my hands. My palms make deep, dark cups, a little hand cave. I squinch my eyes hard so my mind doesn’t see things I don’t want it to.

“Ivy! Ives. Stop it. Stop! Do you hear me?” Lorenzo is jiggling my shoulder. Then he gently takes my chin and lifts it, and we look at each other. “I thought you were going to break up with me,” he says. 

“I thought you’d break up with me.”

“Ives.” His voice is all wobbly. “I love you.”

 “Lorenzo! No! Don’t!” We’ve never said it before, not outright like that. We’re still at the casual end of expressing our feelings, the “love yous” minus the I. Why does the I make all the difference? No idea, but it does. I don’t want pity I. “You don’t have to say that!”

“I know I don’t have to say that! It’s the truth, okay? Fuck! I want you to know I’m not going anywhere. I’m here. Whatever you want, whatever you need. We’ll handle this.”

“We will?” I never expected a we. I mean, I did this. He shouldn’t have to stick around.

“Yeah. We will. Have you told your mom?”

“No. Not yet.”

“You’ve got to tell your mom! At least.”

“I’m going to! Okay? I thought you should know first. And I hear what you’re saying, but forget it. I don’t want anyone else to know. Promise me.”

He shakes his head like I’m asking something impossible, but he says, “Promise.” He puts his arms around me, and the calm slips away, and the numbness does, and maybe even a little of the fear, and a sob rises. Tears have just been piling up against that stone wall of alarm, and now they’ve stormed the castle. I’m soaking his T­shirt, that flag, and he keeps saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay,” even though it isn’t okay, not by a long shot.

I wipe my face with the back of my hand and stare at him hard. “I don’t want to be your Converse.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“The one shoe. In the back of your car.”

 “Okay, Ives. I still don’t get it, but okay.

 “I don’t need to be rescued. Maybe I do. I don’t think. I don’t know.” We sit there in silence for a second. I’m a DeVries, though. “No. Hell no, I don’t.”

“Hey, I’m way more that Converse than you are, Ives. I didn’t want it to just be sitting out there, you know, alone. Lonely, whatever. I’ve felt that way for so long. If you’re a Converse, if you’re worried you are, so the fuck what. We’re a pair now.”

Back at our cars, he kisses me, sweet and gentle, like I’m newly breakable, which is wrong. I don’t like that, because I’m me and this is temporary. I tell him this.

“Is that what you want?”

I nod. I can’t say anything more. I can’t even say it— abortion. The land is so flat here, the word might escape, roll across the ground, lift skyward, and flow through every kitchen window, whispering and whispering.

He doesn’t grill me or ask a million questions or give me a million of his own opinions, which he has every right to do. He only says, “Your mom would let you, right?”

“Yeah, but . . .” I shake my head because it’s impossible.

“Six weeks,” he says. Abortion is against the law here after that amount of time.

“Six weeks and, like, a day. At first, I didn’t even wonder about being late, you know? Who would even do it? It’d be a felony.” I can’t even imagine felony. Actually, I don’t even really know what that word means compared to other crime words. I mean, I’m usually guilty of taking the last piece of leftover pizza, but that’s about it.

“Then we’ll figure it out. I don’t know how. I mean, look where we are.” He doesn’t mean this big field with an Eiffel Tower in the middle of it. He means Texas. “I would take you…wherever we needed to go.”

“Thank you. Really.”

“Baby, you don’t have to thank me.” He’s never called me Baby before, either, and I see him flinch after he says it. Now there are two of us in the world who’ll be shot with little word arrows. 

I don’t answer, but I am thankful. Jason Maxwell, with his important dad at City of Hope Church of God, would never say, We’ll figure it out, and neither would Jason’s friend Chase Winston, or Caleb Baylor, or even our friend Ian, or a million other people. When Faith finds out, she might never speak to me again. I have no idea what Loren­ zo’s parents would think.

“You won’t tell your parents, right?” I plead. Lorenzo’s living situation is the opposite of mine—he lives with his dad, and his mom lives in San Jose. I met her once. We had dinner at Olive Garden, and she told us to order whatever we wanted, but she only got a salad. Lorenzo claims she’s hard to get along with, but she was nice to me, and his dad is so quiet, I get uncomfortable around him. Once, Peyton said, You should get your mom and Lorenzo’s dad together, but we both laughed nervously, since it was one of those ideas that’s cute in the movies but would be creepy in real life.

“I promised, Ives. I always keep my promises.” Lorenzo runs his hand through his hair, though, anxious. The biggest problem he had before now was not knowing what he was going to do after graduation. College, no college, job—he has no idea, and hates having no idea.

The cookies—well, you never hear what happens to the food. In the movies, there’s always all this extravagant­ looking food, and no one ever eats. They’re in a restaurant, and they order, and then someone stalks out after some fight, but what about that glorious steak or lobster or burger that’ll be arriving any moment? Even if it’s just a made­up movie, I worry about who will pay.

So here’s what happens: Lorenzo hands me the cookies.

Everything is bad right now, so bad, but there are still nice things like cookies in ruffled cups. On my worst days, I like to try to remember what’s still good. He hands me the or­ange Gatorade, too.

“Thank you. Thank you so, so much,” I say. I’ve been given way more than I deserve. I can only imagine how he feels about what I did.

It’s hard to believe, but when Lorenzo shuts the door of his truck, I feel closer to him than ever. When he drives away, though, when he’s out on the main road, I can still see him, even if he doesn’t see me. One elbow sticks out from his window like a dog on his best day, but Lorenzo’s face—it’s stony and troubled.

Plan A is available on October 3, but you can pre-order it right now. 

Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB

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