Title: Don’t Call Me Baby

Author: Gwendolyn Heasley ♥ @GwenHeasley

Expected Publication:
April 22, 2014

Publisher: HarperTEEN

Pages: 304

Genre(s): Young Adult ♥ Contemporary

Source: Edelweiss

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 04/17/2014): 3.23

  • Christina thought this title was okay. It goes on her bottom shelf.

**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Initial Thoughts and Rating: 2.5 stars! I think Ms. Heasley perfectly captured the fun side of blogging and the sense of community that comes with the territory, even though in this scenario, it didn’t revolve around books. However, it was the characters and their often offensive actions that proved to be quite a challenge for me to connect to and accept throughout the novel that impacted my rating the most.

♥ The Lowdown: In Don’t Call Me Baby we meet a young girl, Imogene, who has been the sole focus of her mom’s blog since birth. While it was fun to be recognizable and “famous” when she was younger, as she’s gotten older and the posts about her having gotten more and more embarrassing, it’s starting to feel like a huge invasion of her privacy. Of course, her mother refuses to listen to her daughter’s complaints and because it’s a source of income for the family, Imogene’s pleas for freedom fall on deaf ears. Luckily Imogene isn’t alone in her battle of blogger hell and her best friend, Sage, completely understands because she’s the source of her mom’s blog, too. Even worse, Sage’s mom is all vegan and forces her junk-food-loving daughter to be her daily experiment.

Yet, when a dreaded class assignment turns into a ray of hope, the girl’s decide to fight their moms directly for all the world to see. Thus, Mommy’s Daughters Bloggers is born. But their road to independence isn’t without its faults and they soon learn that liberation doesn’t come without cost… and when that cost could be their friendship, everything seems a lot more complicated than it was before.

My Thoughts: Let me get the good parts out of the way before I get into the more nit-picky section of my review. I really loved Imogene’s dad and grandmother. Actually, they were probably the only two characters that I genuinely appreciated in the book. I also liked that Heasley’s book had a few messages; like, one, the communication between a parent and child should be very open and both parties should be willing to truly listen to what each has to say. The other main focus that came through clearly was how people shouldn’t be so swept up in technology and the internet, and how there’s this whole wide world out there filled with people that deserve just as much of our time. Additionally, I appreciated the fact that the author showed that sometimes we need to step away from being so absorbed in our own lives, that while our perception of our life looks one way, it can appear entirely different to someone else. Example: To Imogene, her mom was too focused on her. She needed space and felt suffocated. To Dylan, whose parents often ignored him, he felt like Imogene’s mom’s only fault was loving her daughter too much. He thought Imogene was lucky to have a mom who paid her so much attention. It was nice to see the opposite sides of the coin like that. Lastly, it may have taken until the very end of the book, but all the characters achieved at least a little growth. It was like pulling teeth to get there, though.

Now, let’s dig into my less favorable opinions of the book. Number one is how much I really and truly disliked Imogene’s mom. She was constantly shutting everyone down, even her husband and her own mom. It was always her way or no way, end of discussion, I’m the boss and your opinion is of no consequence to me. Quite simply, it was infuriating. I just wanted to shake her. So. Hard. Not only that, but the tone that was used in her blog was eye-rolling-ly bad and made her sound like a total ditzy airhead. Everything was “super duper -licious.” Since her role in this book is so big, I had to make a real effort not to just set it aside and call it quits. I’m still not a fan of her, even though I, like Imogene, understand why she started blogging initially. But there are just some boundaries that she shouldn’t have crossed, like discussing her daughter’s first period on a public forum. How does a mother not understand how upsetting that would be for a young girl, especially when she’s teased relentlessly about it at school? *slides her the award for biggest mom fail of the universe*

Aside from the my extreme dislike of the mom, I also thought the other characters in the book sounded… immature. Even though they were fifteen, which is probably on the younger side for your average Young Adult protagonists, their voices and actions often came across as childish. This made it really difficult to feel any sense of a connection to them. I was sympathetic to their situations because both of the girl’s moms were disrespectful witches without any regard for their daughters’ feelings, but aside from that, I felt very little for them.

However, character portrayal and development aside, my biggest grievance with this novel was all the blogger speak, golf terms, and other unnecessary things constantly being explained to me. It grated on my nerves like you couldn’t even imagine. It felt repetitious and, in my opinion, completely weighed down the book and broke the pace and flow of the story down too much. There was also an abundance of telling and telling and telling.

Rec It? For middle school to pre-teen, yes. For everyone else, it’d be a resounding no. While I like the undertones and messages of the book for older readers, the simplistic dialogue and character actions made me feel that this was definitely marketed toward the wrong age group. Even though I’m twenty-eight-year old reading “young” adult, it still felt too juvenile for even the average teen reader.

More so, I don’t recommend this for bloggers or golf fans at all, not unless you want to constantly be reminded about terms you already know and use daily.

A very special thanks to HarperTEEN and Edelweiss for providing me with an early copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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