Chicken House, November 2016
When I opened The Baby, I anticipated a quirky, mystery-comedic-misadventure of baby-sitting gone hilariously wrong. With a dash of adolescence adoration. I was grossly mistaken. Instead, I plunged into a pertinent plot involving important issues. The depth of this quickly captivating story, seemingly centered on Olivia’s seventeenth birthday celebration, surprised and delighted me.
The look into Olivia and Jonty’s relationship reveals a rarely addressed, but true tribulation. A hard, honest survey of such a sensitive subject, seen from multiple points of view and various perspectives, proves that even with all of the pieces; a puzzle may not be easily solved. As Olivia better understands Jonty’s world and how it has affected his actions, he learns to analyze and address his issues.
Nicola is sweet and funny. Also, she is insecure and almost desperately eager to please. She makes a mistake. In a real-life kind of way, she makes the same mistake more than once. She was not alone in an ethical error, but solely shouldered the consequences. Initially. I would be remiss if I did not mention Nicola’s mother here, as I definitely dig a reminder that “mature” adults still have room to grow.
Ben is the bond that brings it all together. Being a bit accustomed to the prejudiced cold shoulder, he is a pillar for Nicola as she adjusts to her new life in the public eye. Just as tight with Olivia, he’s even at ease with Alice, her eccentric younger sibling. Maybe he and Jonty are not mates, but neither are they mortal enemies. Besides, they are teenagers; generally open-minded and adaptable creatures.
Ms. Drakeford magically meshes tough topics, tenacious teenagers with the pleasantly peculiar to display a beautiful, big picture that is neither black nor white, but grey in The Baby.
Reviewed by jv poore, July 2017.