Title: Dollbaby: A Novel
Author: Laura Lane McNeal
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A beautiful, tender debut novel chock-full of Southern culture, food, family secrets, and self-discovery, I completely adored Dollbaby--a must-read for fans of The Help and The Secret Life of Bees!
This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
When almost-twelve year old Ibby Bell's father dies, her mother drops her off at her grandmother's doorstep. The two have never met, but when they do, their lives are changed forever. Ibby is integrated into Fannie's strange family: sweet, wise old Queenie, sassy Doll who wants so much more than what she has for her own daughter, and of course, Fannie herself, an old woman who is so much more than she seems. As Ibby grows into a young woman, she discovers that while her family may have secrets to hide, love may be closer than she could've ever imagined..
What I enjoyed:
-I loved the pacing of this novel, languid and smooth and as soothing as a glass of Southern-brewed sweet tea--I couldn't put it down
-The hot, sticky setting of 1960 and 70s New Orleans, beautifully and lovingly rendered--I loved the way this book also showed the dark underbelly of this era
-Ibby Bell, the sweet twelve year old that comes to be loved by all who live in Fannie's old house in New Orleans, who grows into a spunky young woman
-Fannie, the woman who becomes a mother to Ibby, and discovers that though she has secrets, she can still be loved
-Queenie, the wise, hilarious woman who gives so much color and personality to this lovely, bittersweet novel
-Dollbaby, Queenie's sassy daughter who comes to love Ibby just as much as the rest--and finds that some of the old house's secrets may pertain to her--I loved the dialogues between her and her mother throughout the book
-The vibrant cast of characters surrounding our family, particularly T-Bone, Birdelia, and Crow
-The ending--it was honestly just perfect
What could've been better:
-There was absolutely nothing wrong with this tender, flawless debut! Amazing!
I loved Dollbaby--highly recommended! Next on deck: Forbidden: Discover the Legend by Tina Smith!