Author: Gwendolyn Heasley
Published: April 22nd 2014
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
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.
The first thing you need to know about Don’t Call Me Baby is that it’s not Young Adult at all, it’s actually much closer to a Middle Grade read, and if you approach it as such, you’re going to be a very happy camper. If, however, you’re looking for a YA read with everything that entails (including kissing, yes), you’re going to have to look elsewhere. I was forewarned and fully prepared for a younger protagonist, which is probably (at least in part) why I ended up enjoying this book immensely.
Don’t Call Me Baby is a surprisingly thought-provoking read. Imogene’s problems may that of a 15-year-old, but they will give any smart parent plenty to think about. We often underestimate our children and stop paying attention, even though we find ways to convince ourselves of the opposite. Imogene’s mother knew what’s best for her. A mother always does, right? But really, even we mothers are someone’s daughters and we make plenty of mistakes every day, we just hide them better.
To Imogene, a simple request for privacy meant years of arguments and miscommunications. Somewhere along the line, her mother stopped being a mom first and a blogger second, even though she constantly claimed otherwise – on her very popular blog, of course. I think bloggers, especially those of us who are a bit older, will understand very well how blogging can take over your life.
As a parent, I’m very conscious of my child’s privacy, even though she’s only seven years old. I’m not above sharing an occasional photo on Facebook with friends and family, but I’m always aware that there are boundaries and that she’s her own person, with a right to decide some things for herself. Since she’s still too young to do so, I keep her as far away from the internet as I can. However, I clearly see how easy it would be not only to live vicariously through her, but to share her life here for everyone to see. That’s precisely the trap Imogene’s mom fell into, and Imogene was forced to find a way out.
I think I’ll save this one for my kid to read in a few years. If she has fun with it, great. And if she somehow learns from Imogene how to get in my face and make me see my blind spots, then even better.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.