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Estelle: Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

DonDon’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 304
Target audience: Young adult
Key audience: parental relationships, the internet, friendship
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss (Thanks!)

Summary: Imogene has been the subject of her mother’s popular blog, Mommylicious, since forever. As she starts 9th grade, she’s losing her patience with the staged outings, the products her mom wants her to review, and the people who recognize her when she’s out. So when her new English teacher assigns the entire class to starting up their own blogs, Imogene and her best friend, Sage, are determined to get back at their mothers with THE MOMMY BLOGGERS’ DAUGHTERS plan.

Reading Don’t Call Me Baby was an ironic experience. On one hand, I could totally understand where Imogene was coming from. She wanted her privacy; she didn’t want her mom to tell the world about every little thing going on with her. But on the other, as a blogger myself, I know there are so many positives experiences to come out of writing in your corner of the internet.

But Imogene’s mom definitely took blogging to a whole new level. I didn’t entirely blame her because she made a living by running her blog and had built quite a following. But she was distracted by her Mommylicious brand. She wasn’t sensitive to her daughter’s needs or even the needs of her mother (Grandma Hope) or her husband. She had a one track mind.

I’ll admit it, though. I can totally lose myself in my computer screen, and on my phone. To the point where I don’t even hear what the person next to me is saying. It’s not good. And it’s not something I’m proud of. But I have tried to put a cork in it, and be more conscious of how much time I’m spending around technology. That was one of the main themes of the Don’t Call Me Baby and in our internet-driven world, I appreciated it. Balance is so important when it comes to screen time vs. real life time. Imogene’s acting out had so much to do that, and her mother needed to take the time to realize this and do something about it.

Since Imogene was in ninth grade (and not yet officially in high school), the novel read a little young at points but I loved the friendship between Imogene and Sage (her mom also had a blog) and how their conspiring to take down their moms brings up a few conflicts between the two of them. They had a supportive, honest relationship and could lean on each other, but like any other friendship, they didn’t always agree with one another. And then there was Grandma Hope — a bright light and energetic gal who loved golf and didn’t understand the internet. She’s also gave Imogene the support she needed to be more honest with her mother.

From the authentic family dynamics to the commentary on the internet age, I had a great time reading Don’t Call Me Baby. While I had a few concerns about the logistics of the ending, the entire reading experience had me thinking about overexposure of children on the internet, the pros and cons of blogging (how dangerously easy it is to make your life look perfect), creating boundaries to ensure your life is about more than social media, and, most importantly, the delicate and tumultuous relationships between mothers and daughters.

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May 3, 2014 - 1:47 am

Alexa S. - I really enjoyed this! I think it was Heasley’s way of putting blogging and the internet into perspective that I really enjoyed the most. It definitely made me think about blogging and what it means to me and how it affects my own life.

April 30, 2014 - 10:04 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - This was another one that I ended up pushing up because of you! I didn’t realize how interesting this story sounded and it sounds like another great book I can connect to. So glad you mentioned it & reviewed it! I hope I have similar positive feelings 😀

April 26, 2014 - 10:57 pm

Nicole @ The Quiet Concert - Oo I didn’t know this book was about blogging. I think the question of over-exposure, or too much technology will be an interesting one! And I like that the girls plan to take their mom’s down. Sounds fun! I just added this to my TBR 🙂

April 23, 2014 - 8:02 am

Shelve It: In Which We Buy All the Books - […] to enter our giveaway for an ONLY EVERYTHING signed arc (U.S. + Canada) and check out reviews of Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwen Heasley; The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jess Verdi; Life By Committee by Corey Ann […]

April 22, 2014 - 12:58 pm

Rachel - I really like your review of this book. I felt the same sense of irony reading the book as a blogger. Like yeah, I suppose it can get in the way of real life at times, especially if you’re neglecting the people you care about for your blog, but there are so many amazing things about blogging as well. But I definitely have to make a concentrated effort to stay present when I’m with friends (especially those that are non-bloggers), so I can understand where Imogene is coming from as well.

April 22, 2014 - 7:09 am

Amy @ bookgoonie - I know my kid reacts to every photo I take with “are you going to post that?”. Plus I get an eye roll everytime I ask the kiddo to give me a book sound bite. Though our kids don’t mind putting themselves out there, they don’t want us doing it for them.

April 21, 2014 - 4:18 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - You know I loved this story, I’m so glad you read it first and encouraged me to read it while reminding me that the character is much younger than the teens I normally read about. I agree that Imogene and Sage’s friendship was great and very true-to-life, I love how they argued, but then figured out a way to remain friends and grow their relationship.

April 21, 2014 - 12:05 pm

elena - i’m pretty curious about this because of the rise of mommy bloggers and the privacy concerns that are more prevalent these days. oh gosh, if i were imogene i would cringe so hard and feel like i have NO PRIVACY at all. people’s relationships w her via the internet must be so weird, esp because they see her grow up. yikes. kind of like how you feel you know a celeb but you really, really don’t.

April 21, 2014 - 11:56 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - This seems really interesting. I am often sucked into the black hole of the Internet, too. I’ll definitely have to check out this book. Although I love blogging, I feel like I could really understand what Imogene would be frustrated with her life being on the Internet. It’s one thing if she was the one putting her life out there, but it was her mother. Although I haven’t read it yet, so I’m sure there is a lot more to it.

April 21, 2014 - 10:53 am

Molly @ wrapped up in books - I’ve been really interested in the crop of books that have come out recently about teens and internet culture. I can totally relate to you on the whole screen time/real life time balance. It can be difficult to strike! I’m also interested in friendship and family in YA.

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