At least for this first book, the title of this one is a touch deceptive. Not because of the subject matter—teen pregnancy is the focus of this story—but rather because Takara’s perspective is used to frame the story rather than Sachi’s. The viewpoint throughout this book is mostly Sachi’s, though that may change in the future. Even though her pregnancy will have an impact on them both, it seems a little disingenuous to take her agency out of the series’ name.
That’s one of the few instances in which this book fails. My Girlfriend’s Child presents its tale in a matter-of-fact manner that actually works for the characters, so it doesn’t feel like a story that judges its characters. Since childhood buddies and more recently as a boyfriend and girlfriend, Sachi and Takara have been a long-term partnership. It’s unclear if they are the same age or if Takara is a year older, but they have been having sex since Sachi was fifteen, and they both find it enjoyable. Although they had been using protection throughout, their condom breaks just as the story begins. They’ve never engaged in unprotected sex before, but as we all know, once is enough.
Both Sachi and Takara aren’t shown as being stupid; rather, they’re just maybe not as knowledgeable about sex and pregnancy as they should be, which feels extremely realistic for their age. Another extremely realistic response, Sachi is less of a fool and more of a someone who truly doesn’t want to face what she suspects is true. She is uneasy about several physical changes she has experienced, including weight increase and problems with eating and sickness. She does what she needs to do—take a pregnancy test—when she finds that her irregular menstruation hasn’t shown for a longer amount of time than anticipated. She is unsure about what to do when the results are good, but she ultimately chooses to visit an OB/GYN, which is the proper course of action. Is she following the ideal timetable? Maybe not, but she makes all of her judgments based on a firm foundation of anxiety and fear.
She seems to think she must go it alone, which is one characteristic that strikes out. She keeps what she fears from others a secret. Her older brother tries to coerce Takara and her into going to a clinic for an abortion after he notices her looking up pregnancy-related subjects on her phone. Although he has the right intentions and offers to help Sachi talk to their mother about what is happening, his attempt to meddle stresses Sachi out, especially since she has been spotting, which is usual in the early stages of pregnancy and which she mistakenly believes is her period. Even though her boyfriend, once he gets over his shock, is completely supportive and swears he’ll go along with her plans, Sachi is still hurt by the fact that he also forcibly outed her to Takara.
Sachi may not necessarily want that kind of assistance, though. She seems to want someone to direct her because she is young, terrified, and confused. She clearly favors abortion, and part of her need for privacy and secrecy is motivated by a desire to get this issue resolved so that she won’t have to consider it. But the novel isn’t shy about letting us know that this isn’t an easy choice. We see Sachi struggle with her answers as she hovers her pencil over the questionnaire they give her when she skips school to visit a clinic run only by women. Clearly, she reads the expressions on the faces of the other patients in the waiting area as judgemental, but from our vantage point, they aren’t necessary. She likewise avoids eye contact with them. The way she reacts is meticulously depicted to both convey her perspective and the fact that reality may differ from what she perceives.
Sachi has good interpersonal relationships, which is worth emphasizing. Although she is still unaware of the pregnancy, her mother is kind, her brother is awkward but helpful, and Takara is unquestionably a partner for her. They communicate quite openly, and neither shows any embarrassment when talking about her menstruation. It’s not presented as being about a reckless, idiotic teen relationship or a helpless young woman; it just happened, as these things do.
The manga Kami-sama no Orgel by Hime-chan’s Ribbon creator Megumi Mizusawa, which dealt with a young lady facing an unexpected and possibly unwanted pregnancy, was published in 2001. My Girlfriend’s Child is not the first to address this topic. However, it is one of the few to do so in English and to approach the topic in a neutral manner. This volume does not advocate for any certain “correct” response and presents Sachi’s concern in a very collected and grounded manner. The treatment of teen pregnancy and one girl’s attempt to deal with it and make the best choices for herself is currently strong, however that may change in the future. You might want to choose a physical copy for this because the art doesn’t display very well in the digital edition (at least not on my Kindle Fire), but regardless of how you choose to read it, it’s definitely a book worth reading.