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Dollbaby (Book) Review

 
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At a Glance...
 

Page Count: 337
 
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Year Published:
 
Final Score
 
 
 
 
 
4/ 5


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A sweeping tale of family that is earned, not made - and the challenges they face in the 1960's South.

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There is a lot going on here, with many concurrent story lines running throughout the book.


Final Fiendish Findings?

Ibby Bell’s life is about to change – completely and irrevocably. Young Liberty – Ibby for short – is being sent to live with her paternal grandmother in New Orleans after the untimely death of her father. Unfortunately, Ibby’s mother and grandmother did not get along, and so she is being sent to live with […]

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Posted August 20, 2014 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Ibby Bell’s life is about to change – completely and irrevocably. Young Liberty – Ibby for short – is being sent to live with her paternal grandmother in New Orleans after the untimely death of her father. Unfortunately, Ibby’s mother and grandmother did not get along, and so she is being sent to live with someone who – though they may be family in the literal sense of the word – is really a complete stranger when it comes down to it. As Ibby’s mother drops her on the doorstep and rushes off to find herself, Ibby embarks on the next phase in her life.

At just twelve, young Ibby is pretty inexperienced in the world. She’s also very inexperienced with how life works in the South (circa 1964), having grown up in Washington. The very first person she meets in New Orleans is not her grandmother – it’s Dollbaby. Dollbaby and her mother, Queenie, are the African American house staff, and while Ibby will learn much from her grandmother, Dollbaby and Queenie soon become family as well. Queenie has been working at the house for her whole life, and Dollbaby grew up there, working alongside her mother. Though Fannie – the grandmother – is the boss, it is they who really run the house.

Dollbaby is an interesting tale. Of course, it tells Ibby’s story – learning the ways of the South, struggling with the abandonment of her mother and the death of her father, and trying to get close to a grandmother she’s never known. But it also tells a lot of other stories at the same time. Grandma Fannie is a really interesting character. She seems to know everybody, and she has a lot of power because of it – but she’s also quite fragile. There are a lot of locked away rooms in the mansion, and Ibby (and the readers) uncover the secrets behind them as the years pass by.

Queenie and Dollbaby are also quite fascinating. Queenie is a traditionalist, not prone to rocking the boat. She may not like the way things are, but she also doesn’t like putting up a fuss trying to change them. Dollbaby, on the other hand, is tired of the way colored people are treated in the South, and wants desperately to do something about it. She now has a young daughter herself, and isn’t content to watch her go to the back of the bus. The two clash often, but the love between the two of them and the rest of their family is heartwarming.

Dollbaby is a sweeping tale that introduces readers to an entire family just trying to get along as best they can. There’s the fascinating relationships between the main characters, the growing up under adversity story, and the many quirks and skeletons in the closet that keep things interesting without being implausible. It’s a really great read, easily drawing you into the characters’ lives and their trying times.


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)