Book Review: “The Baby” by Lisa Drakeford

October 21, 2016

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Olivia’s 17th birthday party is just getting into full swing (despite the presence of her overbearing boyfriend, Jonty), when she walks into the bathroom to find her best friend, Nicola, giving birth on the floor. No one knew she was pregnant (not even Nicola herself), but a baby, of course, changes everything. The arrival of Eliza, as she’s christened, threatens to tear Olivia and Nicola’s friendship apart because there’s one secret Nicola still isn’t willing to share…the name of Eliza’s father.

I was drawn to The Baby by my love of that wonderful, underappreciated reality show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. That show is delightfully ridiculous, and while I’m not sure why I thought that could translate into novel form, I was willing to give it a shot. I have to say, dear readers, that this risk didn’t pay off.

The Baby is not a good book. It’s predictable, and its characters are shallow. Younger teens might be drawn in by the pulpy sensationalism of it all, but I’d have a hard time recommending it to any of them. This isn’t only because the book isn’t very good but also because Olivia’s boyfriend, Jonty, is abusive. Has been abusive for almost two years. And somehow in the course of this flippant novel, he blames it on being abused as a child and then swears to never do it again. And The Baby takes him at his word. Jonty is re-integrated into this ragtag team of friends who have to renegotiate their relationships because of Nicola’s baby. That’s not only a bad plot point, it’s flat out irresponsible.

Usually I try to find something good to say about every book I review because many times it may be that even though a particular book isn’t for me, it is for somebody else. But not with this one. The soap opera–esque complications might have been fun for a quick, silly read except for the inexcusable message the novel sends about abuse.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.