Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
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.
Publishes in US: April 22nd 2014 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA contemp
Source: harper teen via netgalley
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I wanted to read Don't Call Me Baby because I liked the premise of being in the proverbial spotlight for her whole life and then her struggle to find the balance between letting her mom do her thing and having her own life.
I liked Imogene's voice. She seemed like a person that I could talk to and that I would like in real life. She respects her mom and that she gets her affirmation and has based a lot of her personality and identity through the blog and she doesn't want to disappoint her by asking for more privacy. But she is embarrassed that others, especially people that are actually in her whole life sees this image of her and her embarrassing moments and every detail of her life.
I loved the presents and themes of family and friendship in this one. Although Imogene feels smothered and overshadowed, and misunderstood because of how she is portrayed on the blog, you can still tell that her mom loves her. Understands her? No way, but she cares. Part of Imogene's growth was learning to speak her feelings instead of seething silently or being passive aggressive--both methods we see in this one for how she copes. Her plans to get back at her mom and open her eyes evolves in this one, and it causes some problems with her and her best friend Sage, who understands what Imogene is going through because her mom is also a blogger, a health food blog, and she forces her views and food on Sage. They bond and have been close friends for years, and I loved their easy conversation, and the light feel that there is between two teens who are so close for some time. We see the friendship tested in this one, and it is hard to read, but I did like the changes and epiphanies it caused the girls to have.
Imogene is also close with her golfing Grandma who lives with them. She is a smart lady and it is hard to see her torn between her daughter and granddaughter and helping them to see the other point of view while still affirming and listening to each's side. She is a cool old lady and the bond reminds me of my late grandmother in some ways.
The romance was fun and light. She'd had a crush on him for a while from afar, but they are finally in some of the same places at the same time. It is the awkward first real conversations and getting below the surface level. I liked how he was understanding but also wise and gives advice and insights without being too pushy or making her feel bad. He has a whole different growing up existance and can see how Imogene could feel misunderstood and written about too much, having no privacy, but he also sees the positives-- that she pays attention to the details of Imogene's life and that is her way of being involved.
Part of the story is told in blog posts, and while I normally don't like anything except narrative, this worked for me, and it came from both Imogene's mom, Imogene herself, and from Sage. They give a new insight into the characters and it flowed well.
The story did seem to change abruptly about fifty percent. I think that the transition and details of what brought Imogene to make such a turn in her tone and objectives needed a bit more time, but I still like the direction that the story went. I liked the story as a whole a lot, but I didn't rate any higher because I don't think it is a memorable enough story to stick with me. I think it is fun and great while reading though and still recommend.
It wrapped up well and was a fun read overall. It was pretty fast paced and character driven story.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Have you ever been in the spotlight?