Review of Knit, Purl, a Baby and a Girl by Hettie Bell
A drunken stroll down memory lane with her ex-boyfriend leads Poppy to a Planned Parenthood clinic for help and advice. Escorting her from the cab to the door through the mob of anti-abortion nuts is Rhiannon. The two young women meet again a few days later as Poppy decides to join a knitting group and guess who else loves knitting?
The flirting is extremely cute and lovely, as young love should be. The way Poppy and Rhiannon are when they first meet is really what falling in love should feel like.
The thing with dating when you just found out you’re pregnant and the person you want to date isn’t the child’s parent is you need to get the big and scary questions out of the way very early in the relationship. Or at least decide they’re not going to stand in the way of the relationship. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Poppy sounds very young. She’s twenty-two and feels like a constant disappointment to her family – she’s fat, she’s not successful as her sister – but knows she can count on them to bail her out if she’s in trouble and willing to put her pride aside. She was pretty sheltered until she dropped out of college two years ago. Sheltered but not in a loving way, in a controlling way rather. Right now, she’s totally freaking out about having a baby yet she’s also very sure she wants to have that baby. Except of course when she’s freaking out. There’s a moment when she goes full-on bitch on everyone around her, and whether it’s the hormones or her insecurities speaking, she pushes everyone away and it’s kind of terrible. I didn’t like her much then but it only made me love her more, because yes, she’s in a difficult position and handling difficult situations badly is human. And it made me love Rhiannon and the stitch ‘n bitch crew even more because they get that. As a result, this story almost made me want to take up knitting. Almost. Not so much for the knitting itself but for what it means to Poppy and to her new friends. Bell drew her inspiration from her own experience of knitting groups and came up with wonderful secondary characters of all age groups and walks of life. The Planned Parenthood staff have a lesser role but they have full presence. As for Poppy’s mother and sister, they’re in a very different category, and I rather enjoyed watching that arc unfold.
At twenty-six, Rhiannon is much more settled in her life than Poppy, she loves her job at the café and volunteering at Planned Parenthood. She’s very secure on the surface but getting an insta-family was definitely not her plan and she’s trying to keep her boundaries firm. This leads to misunderstandings and unwillingly hurtful actions, but I loved Rhiannon’s honesty and how she deals with problems.
The overall feeling I got after I (digitally) closed this novel was that of a charming and not too angsty story, with endearing characters and good writing. I’m looking forward to more from Hettie Bell.