Love & Haight, by Susan Carlton
From the jacket: “It’s 1971, and seventeen-year-old Chloe and her best friend MJ head to San Francisco to ring in the New Year. But Chloe has an ulterior motive—and a secret. She’s pregnant and has devised a plan not to be. In San Francisco’s flower-power heyday, it was (just about) legal to end her pregnancy. But as soon as the girls cross the Golden Gate, the scheme starts to unravel amid the bellbottoms, love-beads, and bongs…”
My take: Chloe and MJ, 17-year-old best friends, take a road trip from Phoenix to San Francisco in the final days of 1971. They tell their parents it’s to ring in the New Year with Chloe’s hippie aunt Kiki, but there’s a more urgent motive for the trip: Chloe is pregnant and abortions are legal in San Francisco. (They’re legal, that is, if you have parental consent (if you’re a minor) and a psychiatrist’s note certifying your health is at risk if you carry the pregnancy to term.)
While Chloe fulfills her (sometimes nerve-wracking) pre-procedure obligations, she must wrestle with her best friend’s growing doubts about the ethics of abortion, her aunt’s scattered behavior, and the sudden appearance of the boy who broke her heart the previous summer (who just happens to be MJ’s older brother).
Set in San Francisco in the waning days of the city’s hippie heyday, the novel covers the changing politics of abortion, drug use, love, and friendship. With a page count that keeps the novel from delving into any subject too deeply, the book still manages to deal with Chloe’s decision in a reasonably satisfying way, although the secondary storylines are wrapped up in a more simplistic, less emotionally resonant way. A decent book, particularly if you were interested in the time period or the history of women’s rights.