Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
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.