Look at You Now: My Journey From Shame to Strength by Liz Pryor is a memoir which recounts the author’s experience as an unwed, pregnant seventeen-year-old in the late seventies. At the time, Liz promised her parents she would have her baby in a home for unwed mothers, give the baby up for adoption, and never speak of it again. It is a promise she kept up until now and only with her late mother’s permission.
Liz grew-up in a wealthy northshore family in Chicago during an era when teen pregnancies where kept well-hidden if at all possible. Finding herself four months pregnant and sequestered in a locked facility somewhere in Indiana with a group of juvenile delinquents presented an extraordinary lesson in culture shock. With the exception of her mother, father, and step-mother, no one knew or even asked what happened to Liz during her five month disappearance. After giving birth, she saw only a brief glimpse of her tiny baby’s feet, did not know if her child was a boy or girl, and signed-off her rights soon afterward when the baby was adopted.
Reading this book was an emotional experience for me. I know people who were adopted and know others who found themselves pregnant while in their teens. I cannot speak for all, but in my heart, based on those I have known, found this story lacking because I could not believe anyone would have this experience and be able to walk away without deep emotional scars. I did not get the impression it was otherwise for the author. She never once wrote how she felt years later on the day which would have marked the birthday of the child she gave away. Nor did she mention trying to find her child years later. Perhaps these are things which she felt and did, but she made no mention of them which I found unusual.
This is a sad story. I am glad the author finally found the courage to tell it. I do wish however, there had been more to it by way of an afterward. It left me wanting more.