Release Date: April 22nd, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase
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 left me with very conflicted feelings. For the majority of the book, I was perfectly content with giving it one star, since I pretty much hated it. But when I reached the ending, I felt much better about the book and I thought the ending was worth three stars. The logical thing would be to give this book 2 stars, then, but the first part was longer than the second, so I’m giving this 1.5 stars. Since I felt very differently about the first part than I did about the second, I’m going to split this review up.
Part One: “I hate everything” (1 star)
My main problem with Don’t Call Me Baby lies with the characters. I hated every single one of them (except Grandma Hope). Each and every character was childish, annoying and often hypocritical. Now, there’s nothing wrong with unlikeable characters. I greatly admire authors who can pull that off (e.g. Courtney Summers). Unfortunately, these characters clearly weren’t meant to be unlikeable. Throughout the book, it’s clear that we’re supposed to root for these characters. I found that I really couldn’t, since I hated all of them. So, let’s break this down and start with our protagonist.
Imogene is fifteen, which is younger than most protagonists in YA novels. I immediately noticed this because her ‘voice’ was very young and the whole novel had this very young feel to it. Basically all she does is complain about her mother and the blog. In the beginning, I could totally understand this, because everything she went through was quite horrid. However, it quickly started to work on my nerves as she basically did not nothing to complain. Then she comes up with this ‘plan’ which was utterly childish and stupid. She wants to get revenge by starting a blog about her mother. She never speaks with her mother about how she didn’t want to be the subject of ‘Mommylicious’ anymore, but instead tries to express it through really nasty and, honestly, unnecessary blog posts. I understand that she might have found it hard to actually talk to her mother about this issue, but she never even hinted at what she actually felt.
Then there’s Imogene’s mother. I utterly hated this woman. Not only does she pay no attention to her daughter in real life at all, she’s the most annoying fictional character I’ve ever come across. All she ever does is talk about her blog, take photographs for her blog, et cetera. Now believe me, I get some of that. I mean, I’m a blogger myself (obviously). But the lengths to which Imogene’s mother goes are almost scary. Oh, and when Imogene started to express herself through her blog posts, in which she wrote about her mom? Imogene’s mother grounds her and demands she takes the posts down. Hypocritical much? She completely overreacted when Imogene basically did what Meg (that’s Imogene’s mom) has done since Imogene’s birth.
We also have Sage, who is Imogene’s best friend. At first, I actually thought Sage was okay. She was sort of nice and I recognized bits of my own friends in her (especially the way she pretended to play the piano on every surface she could find). But then she turns really nasty as well. At some point, Imogene writes a blog post about something other than how horrible her mom is and Sage gets super angry because Imogene has apparently ‘turned into her mom’?? They then get in a HUGE fight for at least half of the book. This was so weird because the reason Sage was so angry was kind of dumb. I honestly felt that this only happened to add some drama to the plot.
But aside from the characters, there were a lot of things that irked me and made me clench my fists. Like this passage:
“What’s a CD?” I ask, even though I know what they are – antique mp3’s.
My blood starts to boil every time I read that (and I might be overreacting a tiny bit, but still). I mean, WHAT IS THIS? Does Heasley think that this is what teenagers think about CDs? That they are ‘antique mp3’s’? I’m sorry, but when did CDs become antique? I thought that they were still a normal thing. I mean, I could have imaged someone would say this when speaking about a turntable or something (which, by the way, are still on sale, as are CDs). But a CD?? No. And the worst thing is: it’s completely unnessecary to add that! The ‘antique mp3’s’ bit doesn’t add anything to the sentence. It could have been,
“What’s a CD?” I ask, just to annoy her.
And that would still make sense, AND it wouldn’t have annoyed me so much.
Throughout the novel, blogposts from the blogs of Imogene, her mother, and Sage can be found. And, to be honest, they felt stupid. I mean, I appreciate that Heasley put them there, because I think that was a great move, which (could have) added depth to the story. It was a way of showing the reader what exactly was going down and give them a look into the mind of several characters. Unfortunately, these blog posts felt very unreal to me. Especially the blog posts from Imogene and Sage were extremely – sorry to say it- childish and dumb. And they end their posts with things like “Skulls and bones, Don’t Dare Call Me Babylicious” and “VeggieBaby fights back” (those aren’t actual quotes). Do people really do that? Do people call themselves things like “VeggieBaby” on the internet? Maybe they do – I don’t read any blogs besides book blogs and blogs from people I sort of know. But it felt really stupid, as did the content of the posts of Imogene and Sage. They basically consisted of “I went to school today. Also, my mom did this awkward thing and cried, etc. etc.”. And this was encouraged by their teacher. Their teacher LITERALLY showed their blogs to the entire class and told everyone that this was the kind of thing she wanted to see. What?? I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it.
And last but not least, the portayal of vegan food in this novel made me rage. This is a personal pet peeve of mine and I really wish people would stop thinking that vegetarian and vegan food means tofu and salad. I am not a vegetarian, but I regularly eat vegetarian food. And you know what? It’s delicious. Everyone in my family (i.e. me and my parents) are total foodies and we all love cooking and baking and food in general. And basically, what I’m saying is, there are so many delicious vegetarian recipes. In the book, however, Sage’s mom is a veganist. And we get a couple mentions of the food she and Sage eat. Those mentions were all of tofu and raw carrots and celery. It made me cry inwardly. Even though vegan food is more limited than vegetarian food, there are so many more things you can eat besides tofu and raw vegetables. I really wish authors would portray how delicious both vegetarian and vegan food can be instead of painting it off as tofu and the occasional salad. It’s so much more than that, and I wish people would realize this. Oh, and by the way, ‘vegan’ does NOT equal ‘health freak’.
Part Two: “This isn’t too bad, actually.” (3 stars)
But believe it or not, I actually found some redeeming qualities in Don’t Call Me Baby. I didn’t hate all of it with a fiery passion or anything like that; there were some parts (esp. toward the ending) that I kind of liked. Such as the way Imogene and her mother handled things in the end. Like when they FINALLY started talking to each other. I do think that Imogene grew during the book and when she finally understands why her mom blogs and that she didn’t mean to make Imogene’s life uncomfortable, she becomes more adult-like. Instead of bashing her mother in front of a crowd like she’d originally planned to (she really did plan that), she gives a nice speech. Later, she finally talks to her mother and they resolve it all. I was really glad it turned out the way it did because it made both Imogene and Meg so much more likeable.
The ‘romance’, if you can even call it that, was also enjoyable. There really isn’t much of it present, and I was really glad that happened. The romance did not take over the plot at all like sometimes happens. Imogene has a crush on somebody and they talk a few times, but it’s not much more than that. Only at the end of the book they sort of start dating. This romance was really refreshing because it takes its time. It’s definitely great if you’re getting a bit sick of romances!
In all, Don’t Call Me Baby definitely had its up and downs. While I hated pretty much everything for the biggest part of the novel, I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. Although it took a long time, the main character does grow up a little. I loved how the romance took a backseat to the plot, but because of all the things listed above I still can’t give Don’t Call Me Baby more than 1.5 stars.
~Thank you HarperTeen for sending me this copy!~
Latest posts by Celine (see all)
- Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - January 18, 2016
- Celine’s 2015 End of Year Survey - December 31, 2015
- Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy - September 7, 2015
- That Time I Reread the Entire Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series - August 26, 2015