Publication date: 2 July 2015
Publisher: Chicken House
Length: 223 pages
Age group: Young Adult
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Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: ★★★
When Olivia opens the bathroom door, the last thing she expects to see is her best friend Nicola giving birth on the floor – and to say Nicola is surprised is an understatement. She’s not ready to be a mum, and she needs Olivia’s help. But Olivia has her own problems – specifically her bullying boyfriend, Jonty, and keeping an eye on younger sister Alice. And then there’s Nicola’s friend Ben, who’s struggling with secrets of his own…
I fell in love with the idea behind Lisa Drakeford’s debute the minute I saw the book and once my copy landed on my desk, it went straight to the top of my reading list. Teenage pregnancy – and especially teenage parenthood – is a hugely important issue which, I think, doesn’t get the attention it should in YA literature.
Interestingly, and unlike the very few other novels I’ve seen and read so far, The Baby focuses on parenthood and not the pregnancy itself. It explores how Nicola and the dad deal with new-found parenthood and how the dynamics change among their group of friends after the baby is born, which really intrigued me. It also touches upon, however briefly, the subject of domestic violence and bullying, two equally significant topics that don’t get mentioned enough. I have to applaud Drakeford for bringing such important subjects to the attention of younger readers and dealing with them in such a delicate way.
Understandably, I had really high hopes for this novel but, unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.
But let me start with the good stuff. As I said, the idea is brilliant. The plot in itself would’ve been good and I liked the twist at the end – I did not see that coming at all. I also felt like the characters have changed a lot by the end of the story. I tend to enjoy books where you hear the story from different perspectives, so I was really glad that we got to hear this one from five different POVs (I particularly enjoyed Nicola’s part and loved the way she has dealt with all this).
However, even though the idea is great, the execution and the writing just didn’t work for me. I suspect it might have something to do with the third person narrative, which I found a bit dull and very, very monotonous most of the time. I kept wondering whether a first person narration would’ve helped at all, and I think it would have. Slightly.
Although The Baby is classified as a young adult / crossover book, for me it read more like a middle-grade one. The language is very simple, with really short sentences, which doesn’t really make it an interesting read (and makes the characters sound a bit immature as well, I think). The fact that the book is roughly 220 pages long and it took me over a week to finish it says it all.
All in all, I really liked the idea but the writing kind of ruined it for me.