There was a lot I loved about Hettie Bell’s Knit, Purl, a Baby and a Girl. It deals so graciously with surprise pregnancy, abortion and choice in reproductive rights, friendship, growing up and new relationships. Bell also does something that is one of my big pet peeves, which I will discuss behind a spoiler tag. This is a “your mileage may vary” book from an author I want to see more of.
Poppy and Rhiannon meet when Poppy goes to Planned Parenthood to confirm her surprise pregnancy and Rhiannon is her clinic escort. They meet again at the knitting group Poppy joins because knitters probably know something about motherhood. The first half of the book is so great and I was completely invested in Poppy figuring out he wasn’t as much of a mess as she thought she was and Rhiannon figuring out she did want to be a part of Poppy’s baby’s life. The two of them are so lovely together, but also there were completely believable conflicts between them. The story is told entirely from Poppy’s POV.
One of the conflicts was Rhiannon’s completely understandable fear of making too big a commitment too soon. It’s a completely normal and understandable concern when you start a relationship with someone who is going through a life altering change. On top of that Poppy does not have a good emotional support network. For a good chunk of the book, Bell approaches all of that with empathy and grace for her characters.
I have some pet peeves as a reader and I fully recognize that not every reader shares my sore spots and every writer should write the story they want to write. With those caveats, here is what I didn’t like. I’m spoiler tagging it because it is a bunch of spoilers. SPOILERS: Rhiannon breaks up with Poppy “for her own good” and tells her she should move back in with her controlling mother. At this point, Rhiannon is out of the picture and since we don’t see her POV, we don’t know how her thinking is changing between the break-up and the reconciliation. It bothered me a lot in the second half of the book that Rhiannon was either perfect or awful. She manipulates Poppy, ghosts her and doesn’t apologize until Poppy blows up at her. She agrees to go to a party at Poppy’s sister’s house, yells at Poppy, and then ghosts Poppy again until she breaks up with her. At this point, I need a lot more than showing up for the baby’s birth and an apology to believe that Rhiannon and Poppy are on the same page of their relationship. By breaking them up and not having them talk for so long, I didn’t get to see them come together as partners. We get Rhiannon’s words, but not her actions and Rhiannon has said before that she would be there for Poppy and then she quite spectacularly was not. Poppy does grow and change. She does recognize that she needs a bigger support network, she does learn she needs to ask for help, she does learn to set boundaries with her mother. Maybe Rhiannon made changes in her own behavior, but we don’t know because we don’t see it happen. END SPOILERS. Epiphanies are great, but they don’t mean much unless you do the work to make the changes.
Again, there was a lot to like in Knit, Purl, a Baby and a Girl. Bell wrote some interesting people I would want to spend more time with. I didn’t love the way she handled the back half of the story, but that reflects my biases as a reader. I would definitely read more from Hettie Bell and hope I get the opportunity to do so.
I received this as an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.