I don't want to like this book, but it's starting to haunt me. Shivana Montgomery's world is extremely stereotypical, with such a dreary vision of Chicago's South Side in which nothing positive ever happens that I nearly stopped reading early on. It's a tale seen and heard so often that its lack of complexity in this novel just seemed offensive. Shivana lives in poverty, attends a high school where violence seems more prevalent than learning, and has only one friend. She babysits for a family that lives upstairs in her apartment building and is impregnated by the children's father, a local drug dealer. A few early slips in narration didn't help my opinion either. Since it's set in 1992, let's just say that all the dialogue is in Ebonics but the first-person narration occasionally uses words or makes observations that seem beyond Shivana's verbal capabilities.I also found the other protagonist, Shivana's fetus, who tells the stories of the three times she was nearly born before, troubling politically. It's not fair to critique the book on those terms, but it was difficult to read the tragedy of a thrice-nearly born fetus discuss the beatings in slavery, lynching, and serious depression that led to suicide that kept her in spiritual limbo without feeling like I've been set up. The very fact of her fetus's ability to tell her own story makes Shivana's deliberation over an abortion overdetermined, and the way that abortion is equated with those three other conditions makes a reader who disagrees feel trapped.But, I can't stop thinking about this book, about a young girl who alternately views the world, and especially men, with suspicion and is seduced by them all the same. As many times as her story has been told--young, uneducated, with little hope for the future, and pregnant by an absent man, this time in jail--it takes a sensitive writer to give birth to a a character whose naive mistakes seem sensible.