By Author / Illustrator
Chicken House Ltd
Paperback / softback
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 wasn't quite sure what to expect when I first picked up the book, but once I started reading, I just couldn't put it down! It starts at Olivia's seventeenth birthday party, her best friend, Nicola subsequently gives birth to a baby girl, Eliza on the bathroom floor, much to the surprise of her and the other guests. The narrative is broken up and told through the five different perspectives of the main characters, each chapter intersecting with the arrival of Eliza and the problems they are encountering in their own lives. The book covers such a broad range of issues from teenage pregnancy to homosexuality to domestic abuse that I originally thought would be too confusing but was in fact, quite the opposite. I found each character intriguing and wanted to find out what made them 'tick'. The only downside to the book was the ending. I found it to be quite abrupt after the surprise revelation towards the end, fingers crossed for a sequel to find out what happens next! 256 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Clare Humphreys, librarian.
Suggested Reading Age 11+
Published just last month (July 2015), The Baby has already got the bloggers excited and the critics lining the book up as one of their Young Adult reads of the year. Written in an authentic voice (well, five of them) Lisa Drakeford's debut novel is a librarian's dream - this contemporary tale, firmly grounded in reality, is as odds-on a bet as you'll find to reel in female readers from reluctant to bookworm. The author writes with an understanding of teen issues and behaviours that can only come from having worked with children and the result is an honest, wholly believable story that covers teen pregnancy and parenthood, abusive relationships, broken homes, friendship issues, bullying, sexual angst and misplaced trust (have I missed anything?). The narrative begins at Olivia's 17th birthday party with Mum and Dad safely packed off for the night and (slightly odd) younger sister Alice banished to her room for the evening. When best friends Ben and Nicola show up and boyfriend Jonty makes an appearance, it's time to get this party started. Drink flows, music blares, everyone's having a GREAT time, but the pizzas in the oven are starting to burn, Jonty's just slapped Olivia around a little bit, someone's locked themselves in the bathroom and best friend Nicola is nowhere to be found...until the bathroom door is broken down and there's Nicola. In labour. As the narrative progresses through the eyes of the five main characters, the story evolves around them and their relationships with each other... and of course, the one character whose voice we do not hear but who affects everyone- the baby. Teen pregnancies (especially the 'accidents') are for the most part dark and difficult affairs with many subsequent births regretted. Lisa Drakeford, whilst not shying away from the realities of such situations, has a written a joyous novel, full of humour, compassion and hope. It's a wonderful debut and with a wholly unexpected twist at the end that begs for a sequel. 256 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Mark White, school librarian.
Suggested Reading Age 11+