I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
Published by HarperTeen on April 22nd, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
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.
I thought this book would take a firm stance on the need for privacy and the need to let teenagers make their own mistakes and carry out their own voices. The story did begin that way, and that is what the synopsis and book trailer promised me. But it sadly deviated quite quickly and took a totally different stance.
Imogene is not a gifted blogger. When she starts her blog, trying to make a statement against her mother’s overbearing behavior, she posts tiny entries of anecdotes that are specific to her mother and reek of spite. After only two entries like this, she completely gives up on that, pretty much, and instead starts posting about the need to “unplug” and stay off the internet to actually enjoy life.
Is it a valid point? Sure, but it’s not what I was promised, for god’s sake. Imogene has conversations with her best friend and other classmates which far better illustrate the need for privacy and for parents to keep their distance, but these are never made public. They’re just fucking conversations and GODDAMMIT they were good points that NEEDED TO BE MADE.
Then Imogene moans about her mother not getting it and I’m just like, “OF COURSE SHE DOESN’T. YOU DIDN’T EVEN TRY.” And her mother is an absolute NIGHTMARE. I was trembling in anger at all her stupid blog entries and each attempt to control Imogene and what she wrote on her blog. I honestly wanted to punch her in the face.
Meanwhile, Imogene’s sort of crush tells her that she’s being too hard on her mother. Excuse me? That crossed the line of realism. These are freaking teenagers. Who on earth would be like, dude, you need to back off your parents. Especially knowing that everything Imogene’s mother does is known to the whole public. I can’t imagine a single teenager reading those posts and thinking, oh, that’s just a normal display of love and nothing to get mad over. Please. Get a grip.
But of course, soon, Imogene comes up with a Plan that would make her mother see. But as soon as she mentioned it, I knew how the rest of the story would go. Her mother’s behavior is more or less excused, and Imogene backs down. It’s a happily ever after story that’s resolved in a completely unbelievable way. A fierce conflict of principles is turned into a minor disagreement or something. And suddenly, magically, her mother sees the light – without getting a big reality check, which given how she is described at the beginning of the book WOULD HAVE BEEN FUCKING NECESSARY.