Spotlight & Excerpt: Freshman Forty by Christine Duval

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Book: Freshman Forty
Author: Christine Duval
Date Published: February 20th, 2013
  When eighteen-year-old Laurel Harris discovers she’s pregnant four weeks into the start of her freshman year at prestigious Colman College, she has all intentions of telling her father. But being away at school makes it too easy to hide. And while she can’t explain to her friends, or to herself even, the reasons why she doesn’t want the baby’s father to find out about the pregnancy, the rest of her world begins to unravel.
  Freshman year is hard enough. Most girls get through by forming close friendships, finding new boys and a phone call from mom or dad on Sunday. Laurel has to navigate all of it while hiding an unplanned pregnancy from a summer fling...
  An imperfect heroine plagued by bad choices and haunted by the memory of her deceased mother and grandparents, readers are sure to identify with Laurel as she navigates teen pregnancy, in secret, in a remote college setting.


Our last pregnancy support group meeting of the year has been moved up to accommodate final exams and holidays. It’s a potluck dinner. Since I don’t have a kitchen, I buy a box of fried chicken, and am put to shame by all the nice dishes everyone else has made.

We set up a long table and put down red plastic cloths with festive paper plates and cups, and sit around gabbing about this and that. Now there are two new moms because Yolanda had her baby boy in early December. We are dropping like flies. Alison begins the structured part of the meeting over dessert.

“The holidays can be stressful for everyone, but especially if you’re pregnant or just had a baby. There’s an old saying, if doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. I think as you have all gone through your pregnancies and now for two, parenting journeys, you’ve learned firsthand that this is true. As you leave here tonight and deal with potentially difficult people or situations over the holidays, I want you to focus on acceptance. In other words, don’t try to control the uncontrollable and don’t try to change a person who can’t be changed. People are who they are. With acceptance comes forgiveness and with forgiveness comes inner peace and we can all use some of that.”

Her words strike a nerve, and I can’t help speaking up. “But what if the problem isn’t that you can’t accept them, but they can’t accept you?” I ask.

“In what way?”

“It’s like, with my father, I’m the symbol for everything that has gone bad in his life. So instead of us getting closer, he pushes me further away. And now he’s getting married and he’s about to start a new life with someone, and I’m afraid I’ll never get the chance to show him that I’m a real person, that I exist.”

The entire group is looking at me, but Kyle is the first to speak up. “But, you aren’t giving him a chance to accept you. You haven’t even told him you’re pregnant and you’re five months into it. You push him away as much as he does you.”

“That’s not true.”

Audrey chimes in. “It is Laurel. You’re nice and all, but you walk around with this invisible armor on that no one can penetrate. You’ve told what? Two people you’re pregnant, other than us and a couple of doctors. You drive an hour to a support group when there is probably one right near Milton. How much longer are you going to keep this secret? If you told your dad, maybe he’d see that you’re a real person. Real people screw up.”

 About the Author:

  Christine Duval has been writing creatively since the fourth grade when she penned her first short story entitled "London Terror," about the murder of a cat in London. In the book flap description it clearly stated that it was meant for "older children." So it's no surprise her debut novel FRESHMAN FORTY would be about an eighteen-year-old college student.
  Christine grew up on the North Shore of Long Island where life moves pretty fast (unless you're on the LIE). She lived in Italy twice as a teenager: once when she was sixteen in Bologna and in a small town on the Adriatic Sea called Porto San Giorgio that no one outside of Italy has ever heard of; then in Florence when she was nineteen. Her parents wondered if she'd ever come back.
  College was spent in the Finger Lakes: the inspiration for Colman, Milton, and Kashong Lake. It really is cold, wet and grey there - OFTEN! But when the sun comes out, boy is it pretty.
  Life eventually took her to New York's Upper West Side, the place she'll always consider home. Though for now she resides in New Jersey with her family and a very spoiled love bird who can't decide if he's a boy or she's a girl.
 Author Links: Facebook|Twitter
Buy Links: Amazon

SAHM to four rowdy kids. Avid reader and blogger.


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