Published by HarperTeen, the print edition is 304 pages.
NOTE: This review is based on an eARC received from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for my honest review.
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.
DON’T CALL ME BABY is a sweet and funny story that every girl – whether a mother, a daughter, or both – can relate to. It’s a story with a positive message that lets readers see things from both sides of the mother-daughter divide. And while Imogene’s situation is a bit more extreme than most, the issues she and her mother face are ones that readers will be able to identify with.
On first glance DON’T CALL ME BABY appears to be a story about a girl whose mother is self-absorbed, who puts her blog’s audience before her own daughter, and who doesn’t respect her daughter’s need for privacy. But as the story progresses, both readers and Imogene are shown that not everything is as black and white as it might seem. And that sometimes empathy, understanding and compromise are far more effective than drastic measures.
Imogene is a mature and thoughtful young girl who is at the end of her rope when it comes to dealing with her mom. She’s ready to take a stand, even if it means resorting to using the same tool her mother does – her blog. And while she’s initially ready to do battle no matter the consequences, she soon has a change of heart.
Gwendolyn Heasley has written a story that both entertains and gives readers something to think about. Interspersed throughout with hilarious, cringe-worthy, relatable blog posts from Imogene a.k.a. Don’t Dare Call Me Babylicious and her mother Meg a.k.a. Mommylicious, as well as Imogene’s friend Sage a.k.a. VeggieBaby Fights Back, readers will laugh with, cheer for, and sympathize with each of the characters at various points. And they might just find that choosing sides and sticking with their choice may not be as easy as they’d initially thought.
DON’T CALL ME BABY is an absolutely delightful read with moments that are bittersweet and others that are incredibly heartwarming. It’s a story that not only seeks to help mothers and daughters understand one another better, but shows them that sometimes the best way to reconnect is to disconnect.
On a Personal Note…
I was initially wary that this story might be a bit young for me given that the main character was just entering the ninth grade. But I was instantly hooked after reading Mommylicious’ blog post.
I immediately chose sides – Imogene’s. I was outraged at just how thoughtless Meg was. I was so excited when Imogene and her friend Sage decided to fight back against their blogger moms. I could totally relate to what they were going through – both Imogene and Sage. And I was totally emotionally invested in the outcome.
So I was completely surprised when I found myself – albeit grudgingly at first – seeing Meg’s side of things and even sympathizing with her. That was totally unexpected.
And while I still thought that Imogene was the most mature, the most willing to compromise, it was nice to see that her family and her friend were also willing to change.
I really love reading stories where the characters achieve some kind of enlightenment. And especially stories where they are then able to use that to better themselves and improve their relationships with others. DON’T CALL ME BABY had both.
But this story wasn’t just about positive messages or food for thought. It was funny and adorable and a super quick read.
And, yes, I would have loved to have been able to hand this book to my mom when I was a teen.
Some of my favorite passages in this story were those in Imogene’s mom’s blog posts. They made me cringe on behalf of Imogene as they were so mortifyingly embarrassing.
But in addition to those cringe-worthy passages which I loved and could totally relate to, there were these other beautifully written passages which I connected with even more.
My mom and I are quiet. I feel like an intruder in a moment that doesn’t belong to me. For big events like weddings and funerals, guests are usually invited, but sometimes it’s the small, private moments that really change people. It seems strange to be an audience to one of those moments.