Choice by A.J Walkley

Hey y'all! This was a review that I did for Immortal Ink Publishing, the publisher who I intern for and I got the chance to review some self-published books for them. This was originally posted on their blog.
Format: eBook
Source: Bought

Haley Fry and her twin sister, Jamie, have been compared to one another since birth. Haley is the quieter twin, a lover of music who prefers solitude to spending time with multiple friends. A prodigy on the saxophone, she dreams of a career as a musician. Jamie, on the other hand, is the athlete of the family who prides herself on her popularity and how many boys are after her.

The twins' parents, Larry and Maggie, place more trust in Haley because of her calmer nature. They expect the unexpected from Jamie, but not Haley. When Larry and Maggie learn that sixteen-year-old Haley is pregnant, they are shocked. Surprising everyone, but mostly herself, Haley faces a life-changing decision: Does she abort the baby or become a teenage mother?"Choice" presents Haley's dilemma in a unique way. The first half of this novel narrates what happens when Haley chooses an abortion, while the second half reveals Haley's life when she chooses to keep the baby. Told through the eyes of the entire family, "Choice" illustrates the tough decisions involved in a teen pregnancy.

The parents never expected Haley to be the one to get pregnant. If anything, Jamie was the reckless one. She was the one who did impulsive things while Haley was the quiet one who thought about her future. If anything, she should be the sensible one, right?
The second I read the synopsis, I knew that I wanted it. Being a twin means that nobody else can really understand your relationship with your twin or how it feels to constantly be compared to somebody. It's tough, but it's also amazing. My twin, Hannah, and I are best friends, but we have different passions and at other times, we're so alike that it's tough to be with each other. People have this constant opinion like we're the same person, or that we're two halves of one whole. We're separate people, and no other relationship is exactly like that of a twin's.
I really enjoyed A.J Walkley's take on twins. I don't know whether she's a twin or not, but she nailed the feeling almost exactly. It was incredible to read, and by the end of the book, I was both laughing and crying my eyes out. The premise itself was interesting.
It was also a bit sad for me to read because my twin and I are incredibly close. Sometimes we get into arguments and say things we don't really mean but it still always upsets me to read about twins who have bad relationships. It's definitely interesting, but still leaves me grateful that Hannah and I have the relationship that we do. I kept comparing myself to Haley and her to Jamie but Haley and Jamie were a bit ostracized from each other. I loved the heavy focus on relationships that A.J. Walkley focused on and the development and effort that she put into each one.
A.J. Walkley's writing style was different too, especially with this book. What startled me when I first dove in was that A.J. started out with the parents. Not many teen books - or more specifically, books about teenage pregnancy - focus on the parents that much. I really liked that, because it does impact the parents a lot. Their points of view about Haley's pregnancy were startling. In situations like this, a ton of emotions and decisions are put on the parents but most books and media just focus on the actual teen.
Haley and Jamie's relationship is dynamic. Haley is quiet, who prefers solitude and her music more than clusters of friends like her sister does. In this way, Haley reminded me of myself and Jamie as my sister. Although Hannah isn't always trying to drag me places, a lot of the time I prefer my own company to anybody else's, with the exception of Hannah.
Haley's narrative definitely reflected this. When she was narrating the sequence of events, her emotions were subtle and she was shyer than Jamie was in her narrative. She was the type to talk more inside her head then with people.
The story is about young love and sisters. That was the theme that I got with most of the book. Haley is finally falling for somebody, and she is completely head over heels. She's still sensible, but she finally feels like somebody understands her and that she can open up to somebody and be accepted. Her transformation throughout the book was incredible to read about and experience.
I also like how there was a heavy focus on music and New York City. The descriptions of both were like a love letter which I loved. The mood of the book definitely came through with a few choice descriptions from the author.
Jamie tended to be louder and over-the-top, often not stopping to think when she says or does things. Sometimes she hurt Haley and her friends by doing this, but her immediate remorse also said volumes about her character. She always meant the best, although sometimes she did the wrong thing.
This aspect of Jamie was also one that I identified with because she's the person who wants to do good things, but her actions always end up coming out wrong. She says the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time, and it all ends up coming back to haunt her.
Jamie always wanted to be closer to her sister even when Haley was shutting her out, and it's at this part that I actually started to feel like the book was changing me personally. Sometimes I feel like I block out Hannah in these ways, and I definitely could apply Jamie and Haley's relationship to Hannah and I's. This entire book was one that I used to reflect upon myself, and it also provided an entertaining story.
Perhaps the most unique and distinct part of the story was how it was written. It was written almost like a memoir, skipping around and looping back, and sometimes writing the same actions in a different point of view to show how it was different to everybody. I didn't exactly love it or hate it, but it was a great way to tell this particular story with these characters.
The character development was excellent. With a book like this, your characters have to change drastically because of the circumstances thrust upon them. I was expecting a complete 180 by the characters but the changes to their characters came slowly, subtly. It was a beautiful way to create the mood of the book and I was able to relax into it and connect to the characters because of how they developed. It was more than a book but an experience. There's a quote somewhere like the number one thing to do while writing is to connect the reader to your characters because they can't tear themselves away when they invest in the character. I was majorly invested in the story of Haley and Jamie, not just because they are twins but because of their unique personalities and how the circumstances changed them. With every word, I was tethered closer to them and I cried when the book ended.
The only thing that made me hesitate was that I wish there would have been a smoother transition between the two "realities" that Haley went through. In one scenario, it explores what happens if Haley got an abortion. I wish it would have dealt more with the long term aftermath of her decision but it doesn't. I would have liked to see it written maybe with a chapter detailing what would have happened to her later in life and how that one decision changed her life. It skips straight to the next reality, in which she keeps her baby. In this one, it did deal with a lot of the long term parts of it and this is where we truly see the characters develop which I really enjoyed.
Overall, I thought that Choice was a stunning book. The emotions and characters had me invested and I cried when I finished the book. There were only a few minor problems which I could ignore for the larger part and it was one of those books where afterwards, I put it down and thought about it for ages. I loved being able to read it and I definitely recommend it to anybody who enjoys good writing, solid character development, or if you are a person with sisters or a twin.