Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

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Review: Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
Don't Call Me Baby
Gwendolyn Heasley
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: April 22nd 2014
by HarperTeen

All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on THAT blog.

Imogene's mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. Hundreds of thousands of perfect strangers knew when Imogene had her first period. Imogene's crush saw her "before and after" orthodontia photos. But Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her, in gruesome detail, against her will.

When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online...until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she's been waiting for to tell the truth about her life under the virtual microscope and to define herself for the first time.

Don't Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and irrepressibly charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and the surface-level identities we show the world online and the truth you can see only in real life.
-A copy was provided by HarperTeen for review-

Oooh boy, this book and I did not get along very well at all.  Upon starting it I got really nervous because the first thought I had was that it all felt really juvenile.  Now that I am finished I can safely say that this novel will probably appeal much more to middle grade readers than young adult ones.  Though to be completely honest, I won’t be recommending this book to anyone at anytime.

In Don’t Call Me Baby we are Imogene, a girl who has grown up being blogged about daily by her mother.  Her mom goes by the online monicker Mommylicious and Imogene by Babylicious.  First of all let me talk about this blog of her mother’s, if I was the adult writer of that blog I would be pretty embarrassed and it’s definitely not a place that I would go to as a mom for advice.  The posts that we get to read in between chapters from the blog feel like they are written by a high school student, an air headed one at that.  “OH EM GEE Imogene might get asked to the dance!” That sort of stuff.  Another thing that felt really annoying to me was Imogene’s constant need to explain the most basic things, like here:

“I had such a nice weekend, and I figure we might as well enjoy one another before I go back to my birdies and eagles.”
Birdies and eagles are more golf speak. *

Thanks tips! When pretty much everything that comes out of your grandmother’s mouth has to do with golf I’m pretty sure us reader’s can put two and two together if we don’t know what those references are to begin with.  This is definitely one of those books where you feel as if the author thinks you are dumb which is why I think it might be better left to much younger readers who maybe need those explanations.

Even the actions of the characters grated on my nerves in this one, especially Mommylicious herself.  This woman, man I wanted to strangle her.  I mean I am a blogger and I understand that a blog means a lot to a person but it shouldn’t be at the expense of others.  Mommylicious takes it upon herself to blog about Imogene’s first period, a “Babylicious is a woman now!” type thing and the poor girl gets bugged at school about it but this woman just does not let up.  She posts before and after pictures of Imogene waking up and getting ready for school and just anything unflattering you can think of.  Teenage years are hard, really hard, even without your most personal of moments being aired out on the World Wide Web for everyone to see. The fact that Mommylicious just didn’t get that rubbed me the wrong way.

Now I am not usually one to get really technical about writing techniques but there is something else that really bothered me in this novel.  Contractions were just running rampant! Now, I know that contractions are necessary and in dialogue they make it flow better and feel much more natural because who doesn’t contract words when they speak?  I’m not sure if in this novel it was just the name that was CONSTANTLY being contracted but it was really bothersome for me because they didn’t feel natural they just felt awkward.  Here are some examples from the first 20% of the novel:

“As Sage’s paying the cashier…”
“Sage’s holding her phone in a tight fist…”
“In the photo, Sage’s making a face…”
“Sage’s always been so much better at telling her mom…” *

That last one really bothers me, no honey, Sage HAS always been so much better at it!

So anyway, I’ll stop this rant.  As you can guess I really didn’t like this book and this probably isn’t an author that I will seek out in the future.  The only reason that I didn’t DNF this one early on is because it was super short. I think this would be much better marketed towards MG readers but unfortunately it’s not.  Stay away, folks.

*All quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof (ARC)

1 Stars
1 Cold Espresso

19 Responses to “Review: Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I took this one out of my TBR when I saw that pretty much everyone was hating it, and your review just confirmed that I made the right choice. It does really sound juvenile from the quotes you’ve shared. Also, the mother sounds really annoying. -_- I can see how the contractions bothered you as well. I think they would bother me too.
    I’m sorry this was a miss for you, Jenni.
    Great review!

  2. Lisa @ Lost in Literature

    Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of similar reviews about this one. I did receive it for review, but I’m thinking it just may not be worth the read. And the contractions would have annoyed me too, especially that last one! Sage HAS, dammit!! >.< Sorry you weren't a fan, Jenni. Great review!

  3. Amanda @ Book Badger

    I hardly knew anything about this book beforehand and I seriously don’t feel as if I know anything else about it to be honest. The writing would have personally annoyed me much more that it did you, and I think that’s saying something, and I seriously think it’s a shame that the cover is so beautiful, because it’s almost a waste.. great review though! 🙂

  4. Pili

    I’m sure I would hate the mother and feel like strangling her all the time, so I will keep myself well away from this book!
    Thanks for the very honest review (and warning!), Jenni!

  5. Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction

    Too bad you didn’t enjoy it, but I totally see your point. I hate it when an author feels the need to explain everything. I wasn’t planning to read this one which I’m glad of now. I don’t think I’d make it through the whole thing, short or not.

  6. Ella

    Too bad, the plot sounded interesting though. Thank you for your honest review, those points you mentioned were really annoying.

  7. Kathy @ I Write, I Read, I Review

    Those contractions aren’t contractions. They’re possessives. (Not totally sure I have the correct grammar terms, but I’ll explain what I mean.):

    An apostrophe cannot be placed after someone’s name to go (for ex.) “Kat is eating cereal”, turning it into “Kat’s eating cereal.”…because what that’s actually saying, when read, is that the cereal belongs to Kat. (Where what the author wanted to say, in context, was “Kat is eating cereal.”) I’ve seen some weird writing in books, but wow, that takes the cake. O.o

    I usually stay away from technical stuff when I review, too. There has to be room for style and voice. But this is just plain confusing and weird. It probably would’ve made me DNF. Hope your next read is better. 😀

    • Kathy @ I Write, I Read, I Review

      Wanted to add that it *can* be used when spoken–directly or in music–but in a written context it’s confusing. Examples of songs where it’s used include ‘Squeezebox’ by The Who, ‘Ain’t Going Down (‘Til The Sun Comes Up)’ by Garth Brooks, and ‘Time Marches On’ by Tracy Lawrence.

    • Jenni

      I’m not sure what the author was going for but if I had counted all of the uses that bothered me I would have gotten to well over 30 in this short book. I kept having to read the sentences over and over to figure out what she meant by each one. I hope it goes through some big edits before hitting shelves.

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  9. Kayla (The Bookish Owl)

    Too bad you didn’t like it since it sounds like an interesting book. Mommylicious sounds like a catastrophic parent. Thank God my parents can only handle Facebook. Anything with too much html and they start to freak out, HAHA!

  10. Siiri

    ah, it sucks when you feel like the author is trying to explain everything to you and not in a good way. Yes, explanation as in world building, some character behavior, but at the same time? You don’t need to explain every single thing, especially things like *this* :/ idk, this isn’t my kind of read. I’ve read so many DNF and negative reviews lately for this one (and not by seeking them out, my blogging friends just don’t love this book) so yeah. It’s a skip for me.

  11. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    Oh, ew, I don’t think I’ll go for this one AT ALL. I’ve already read a review that pretty much said similar, and frankly, the mother is freaking me out. I hope those kinds of people don’t really exist. That’s like privacy invasion and just…wrong. But as a parent, aren’t you in tune with your children (and heck, remember your own teenage years) enough to KNOW what it would feel like??? That absolutely freaks me out. And those contractions are a bit super awkward. The dumbing down? No no no. Absolute skip.