It's 1960. During an afternoon at the Lido, fourteen-year-old Laura meets French exchange student, Léon. After a confusing, fumbling experience in a darkened changing room, Laura’s life will never be the same. First her moods change, then her body. Soon, she realises that there’s a baby in her tummy – and she doesn’t understand why.
When her parents discover her secret, they are horrified, sending Laura to Heathcote House to hide in shame. Heathcote is full of girls just like her, and Laura soon bonds with her new family as she comes to terms with being abandoned by her parents. As her due date approaches, she wonders if she’ll have a say in how the rest of her life will unfold.
Baby Love is a slow burn, with little happening for the first three quarters or so before the novel gallops toward its conclusion. This wonky pacing means the ending feels somewhat rushed (and, in the context of the rest of the book, a little unrealistic). That said, Laura’s story is touching and Wilson deals with some big issues, including sexual assault, consent, teenage pregnancy, adoption, and class in a way that is both comforting and unflinching. This is important work, and the notes from Adoption UK and School of Sexuality Education provide valuable information and resources on these difficult topics. Overall, despite its shortcomings, Baby Love is a welcome addition to Wilson’s extensive catalogue and an excellent conversation starter for readers and their caregivers or friends.