Was there anything Cerise could have done to make a better life for herself?
If both Cerise and Anna had "just said no" or insisted on birth control, their lives could have been much different. However, that didn't happen so both were forced to make a decision on how to handle an unplanned pregnancy. Neither had a support group and made their decisions on their own. The book allowed us to explore the results their decisions and how these decisions had a major impact on the rest of their lives.
I read a study that low income girls who have children statistically succeed better than low income girls who don't have children. There are now programs that do help these girls get an education or explore other career options. These programs are not as available for those without children. This continues with not only educational opportunities, but also availability of health insurance.
After the strength and determination that Cerise showed while raising Melody, it is very unfortunate that Travis's father became part of her life. The worst mistake Cerise made was being born to a low income family, but her poor decisions compounded her problems. Although her future looked pretty dismal at the end of the book, she was still young enough and with enough determination that she might have still been able to turn her life around.
Perhaps the book could be viewed as a cautionary tale of the risks of unplanned pregnancies.