Rated Reads


by Laura Lane McNeal

Rated: Moderate

This one, from all that I’ve heard, is a dead ringer for The Help. It’s about race relations in the south, New Orleans this time, during the height of the Civil Rights movement. I had hopes — perhaps not high ones, but hopes nonetheless — that this one would be good. 

It’s the summer of 1964, and the main character, Ibby (short for Liberty), is dropped off at her grandmother’s house. She’s all of 12 years old and her father has recently died in a freak accident. So, Ibby’s mother, who hates the idea of being a single parent (“hates” is too mild a word), foists Ibby on her mother-in-law, Fannie, without warning. It doesn’t start off well, mostly because Fannie is one of those eccentric Southern ladies who believes in being proper and feisty and doesn’t trust anyone except her help, who are pretty much like family. (But heaven forbid if her granddaughter takes up with a colored man, as she tries to do when she’s older.)

Dollbaby is full of those quirky Southern characters, doing quirky Southern things, but that wasn’t enough to hold my interest. The plot was lacking, and I didn’t connect with the characters at all. The racism grated — I know: it’s supposed to grate — and I didn’t feel McNeal gave her black characters any depth. Perhaps it’s just been too long since I’ve lived in the Deep South, because instead of charming me, this one just bored me.

Rated: Moderate, for 5 to 6 uses of strong language, other milder language and a rape scene, in addition to mild racist violence and insinuations as well as some more adult themes. 

— Reviewed by Melissa Fox

Melissa Madsen Fox's blogging career began in 2004 when she started Book Nut. Reading, reviewing and book blogging have taken over what's left of her life after being a stay-at-home mom to four rambunctious daughters and wife to a slightly- absent-minded professor of political science.

5 Responses to Dollbaby

  1. Carinne Gee says:

    I just finished this book and I wouldn’t call it mild. There was a detailed rape scene, 5-6 f bombs, plus other profanity including a words. Did we read the same book? I trust these reviews when picking a book and usually they are pretty accurate. You were way off on the content of this book, but not on your review. It was only ok. I agree that the plot was lacking, never really figured out who the main character was supposed to be, characters weren’t developed and it wasn’t that charming like I had expected. Please be careful with your ratings. I come here so I can avoid these kinds if books. Oh and it’s nothing like The Help. That one was charming with great developed characters and a driven plot.

  2. Melissa Fox says:

    I apologize: I actually didn’t finish this book, so I must have missed all of that. What I did read was mild. But things like ratings can easily be changed and we’ll happily change it. Thank you for bringing that to our attention.

    • Carinne Gee says:

      Just wanted to apologize, as I re read my comment…I really sounded snotty and a bit rude. The written word is a funny thing and I didn’t mean it as quite as snippy. Usually the ratings on here have been pretty spot on. This one was the exception I’m sure. Thanks

  3. Theeb says:

    that publishers all want to be the SECOND one to dsceovir something sells, because being the FIRST implies risk, and publishers are so risk-adverse they’d much rather jump on a bandwagon of a hot trend than be first through the door with it.Since I have observed that to be repetitiously true during my 20+ years in the biz, I can see how that would readily translate into publishers being far more interested in a self-published bestselling book than in a promising manuscript. Same principle. And that would indeed give someone like Hugh more negotiating power, despite the book already having been out there selling.

  • Dollbaby
  • by Laura Lane McNeal
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: