By: Celine | April 7, 2014 | (25) Comments

Review: Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn HeasleyDon't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
Publisher: HarperTeen
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!~

1.5 Stars
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Celine is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. Quite obviously, she loves books! She has been a reader for as long as she can remember, and she believes she will be a reader forever. Celine is also obsessed with food, and loves singing along to music as loud as possible, dancing and doodling on nearly everything.

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25 Responses to Review: Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

  1. Siiri says:

    :O HOW WHY WHAT? This sounded so good though. *starts speed reading* I’m sorry the cahracters did nothing for you. Wow. I had no idea that Imogene was so young O.o Also, her mom sounds horrible. Damn! The trailer looked so darn cute. WTF are you kidding me? CD’s, really? I have no words, srsly. Lol! I can see the veggiebaby thing since even though any of my friends do that, I’ve seen weirder things on Internet. This is one freaky place here. I’m glad that there is some character growth though and there is a small part spent on romance? Yay. I’m glad it’s not an insta love. Ok, so I tottally get your rating since all that you said made sense and I’m so sorry that you did not enjoy this book. Here’s to hoping your next one will work out better. Great, thorough review, Celine!
    Siiri recently posted…Review: Hothouse Flower by Krista and Becca RitchieMy Profile

  2. HOW ABOUT NOOOOOO. Antique MP3s….say WHAT?! CDs are not antiques. They’re like…normal. Gosh, that is weirding me out. I got kind of excited when I read the blurb, but there’s no way I’m picking up a book about a whiny protagonist and unfair parents. Gah. I HATE that. This book looks like it’s just on the road to ticking people off. >_< I kind of hate it when blogging is portrayed really negatively in books. I've read quite a few books about blogging and only ONE even used it as a positive thing. What is with that?! Blogging is awesome.
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…5 Ways to Make Your Librarian HappyMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      I KNOW RIGHT? I have never met anyone who thought a CD was weird, much less an “antique MP3”. Unbelievable. And if you hate unfair parents, I would definitely NOT pick up this book! And yes, blogging is totally awesome 😉

  3. Well I’m glad the ending turned things around a little! Unlikeable characters are always tricky. I admire authors that can create unlikeable characters and still have you root for them… but it can hugely backfire on the book when they can’t. I don’t know if this would be for me, so I think I’ll avoid it for now, but thanks for sharing your honest thoughts, Mel! 🙂
    Sam @ Realm of Fiction recently posted…Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. JensenMy Profile

  4. “What’s a CD?” I ask, even though I know what they are – antique mp3′s. I am flabbergasted. LOL. The more I read of your review the more convinced I became that this book is soooo not for me. Kudos for not throwing this one against the wall at least you were rewarding with a strong ending!
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…The Archived by Victoria SchwabMy Profile

  5. I was really looking forward to reading this book, but all the negative reviews kind of forced me to take it off my to-read list. I think I would also hate all of the characters. The main character, especially, sounds ridiculous. Taking revenge on your mother is low despite all the crap her mother pulled on her, especially since she hasn’t actually talked to the woman about how she feels.

    LOL at the CD quote. I’m not a teenager anymore, but that would make me rage too.
    At least the 2nd half was decent.
    Great honest review, Celine!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : The Forever Song by Julie KagawaMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Yeah, I was really disappointed in this 🙁 At least she turned around in the end, but by then it was too late for me!

      The CD quote is just ridiculous. I really hope they’ll edit it out!

      Thank you <33

  6. The title reminds me of the song “Call Me, Maybe” LOL! That quote about CDs being antique mp3’s is just inappropriate at this day and age, unless it was set in the very distant future, but right now, NO, it’s just unacceptable! This might annoy me to no end. Thanks for the honest review, Celine!
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Review 154 : Wonder by R.J. PalacioMy Profile

  7. Melanie says:

    Why the heck does this remind me of Pitch Perfect? I swear, my brain sometimes is very illogical. Anyway, I am pretty sad to see all the negative reviews coming in for this one–I mean this could have been so much fun! Ugh, her mother sounds absolutely terrible, what kinda person would do that to her own daughter. Absolutely horrifying.

    Brilliant review as always, Celine! <33

  8. These characters definitely sound a bit too annoying to seriously enjoy the book. That’s a bummer, really, because I think the premise is very interesting since i know of a lot of mom/parenting blogs.

  9. Aww Celine, sorry the beginning was so horrid for you. The characters all sound pretty stupid to me, but I’m glad they do grow towards the end. I don’t think I’ll be handle all this unnecessary drama though, so avoiding this book! Thanks for the lovely, honest review x
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…Book Review: Fury – Episode 1 (The Cure #1.1) by Charlotte McConaghyMy Profile

  10. Romi says:

    Sorry this one worked out so poorly (for the most part) for you! I agree about your comments on vegan/vegetarian diets- I haven’t found all that many in books, as it goes, but it would be amazing if they were written as being just as healthy and well-rounded as any other form of eating, because really they can be and vegetarian food, I can totally agree, is amazing. I’ve been vegetarian for about 6 years now, so I don’t know what I’d do if it was as bland as it can be made out to be. I hope your next read worked out better!
    Romi recently posted…“When Did you See her Last?” by Lemony Snicket…My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Yeah, I see that in a lot of books and it really makes me sad 🙁 There are so many great things you can do with vegetarian/vegan food! I just wish people would stop giving life to the “tofu stereotype”.

      Thank you! 🙂

  11. Melliane says:

    oh no, it’s really a terrible period… it’s so sad. And even if part 2 is a little better, well it doesn’t help with part 1. I hope next book is better, really hope that.
    Melliane recently posted…Splintered by A.G. HowardMy Profile

  12. What an awesome, indepth review Celine! I particularly loved it when you went into the rant about the vegan food, great stuff! I kind of like the premise, but it sounds like it was pulled off really badly. It sounds interesting, but not sure I’d make it a priority to pick up.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Giveaway & Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott – Ambitious Pokemon/Hunger Games crossoverMy Profile

  13. Kelly says:

    This sounds hideous. It truly does. In the day and age of internet privacy and trying to protect children from predators, why would any mother reveal so much information about her child. That alone would have me wanting to smack the mother’s character in the head with spatula.

    An ‘antique mp3’? It’s not set in hundreds of years from now is it, either that or Imogene is a complete moron. It doesn’t sound like it really redeemed itself enough to warrant me grabbing this one. Awesome review, loved it!
    Kelly recently posted…Silver People by Margarita EngleMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      I didn’t get that either! Especially because people have always warned me about privacy & the internet and the like. I just don’t understand why you would post someone’s entire life online O.o

      Nope, it’s set in modern day! That really irked me.

      Thank you! <33

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