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Young Adult Fiction Pregnancy

A Small Madness

by (author) Dianne Touchell

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2016
Pregnancy, Mental Illness, Friendship
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2016
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 14 to 18
  • Grade: 9 to 12


Rose and Michael are good students with bright futures. They are also in love. But when Rose gets pregnant, her behavior becomes increasingly strange as she pulls away from her best friend, and from Michael, while she struggles to cope with her predicament.

Rose cannot admit that she is pregnant (“If I say it, it will come to be true.”). She moves from denial to ineptly trying to terminate her pregnancy, to believing that she has miscarried, while deep inside, she is on a mental and emotional downward spiral. Meanwhile, Michael, in his confusion, desperation to help and fear of the wrath of his controlling father, sinks into his own kind of small madness.

Inspired by the story of two teens in the US who were arrested for hiding the girl’s pregnancy and later disposing of the baby, Touchell says, “When I saw them on TV I was amazed to see they looked like normal kids. They were from good families; they just looked destroyed… . I thought, there’s more than one victim here; what went on with these kids and why did they think they had no one to go to?”

This is a moving and powerfully written novel told from the alternating viewpoints of Rose and Michael with compassion and a gentle touch. It is an honest, unflinching look at the complex world of young readers.

About the author

After living in the US for ten years, DIANNE TOUCHELL now resides in Perth, Australia. Her first novel, Creepy & Maud (2012) was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Award. She has worked as a fish-and-chip-shop counter girl, nightclub singer, housekeeper and bookseller. She enjoys school visits and encouraging teenagers to consider reading and writing for pleasure as an outlet for the secret madness that is life on this planet. She has also published poetry and short stories and is a member of the Australian Society of Authors.


Dianne Touchell's profile page


  • Commended, Booklist Editors' Choice
  • Commended, White Ravens List

Editorial Reviews

. . . riveting enough to read in one sitting. Told with compassion and empathy, a conversation-starting look at the dangers of keeping a pregnancy secret.

Kirkus Reviews

Tender, terse, and utterly unforgettable.


You can finish this in a day, but take two: one to read and one to recover. It’s all-consuming and remarkable.

The Globe and Mail

Readers will come for the melodramatic plot and stay for the revealing characterization.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books