Call Me Mummy

A dark story about the expectations people place on mothers. One of the few jobs outside of politics which everyone thinks they have a right to judge how others do it.

Book title

Call Me Mummy

Author

Tina Baker

Standalone or series

Standalone

First time reading this author?

Yes

Why I picked this

I kept seeing this everywhere. Lots of bloggers I follow have read it and given rave reviews, and I missed out on joining the Pigeonhole readalong, so when I was browsing through NetGalley and saw it was still available to review I knew I had to request it.

Review copy or purchase

Thank you to the author, publishers Viper and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a review copy for free. This is an honest and voluntary review.

What it’s about

Mummy desparately wants a child of her own. So, when she sees five-year-old Tonya being, she feels, ignored by her own mum she seizes the opportunity and takes Tonya home with her. But, being a mummy isn’t as simple as having a child in your home. Meanwhile Kim, Tonya’s real mum, is demonised by the media because she’s not willing to play along to their pre-scripted game. That doesn’t mean she isn’t desperately missing Tonya.

Review

What a brilliant book. At times hard to read – subject matter-wise – the short sections switching between voices means it is always compelling.

Every parent’s nightmare. Kim is tired and cranky. In the last stages of pregnancy she’s out shopping with her two existing children when five-year-old Tonya disappears. Kim’s anger and frustration means she isn’t the media-friendly distraught parent everyone expects and she is judged and suspected by strangers on the street, neighbouring parents and every vile troll on the internet. But, all she wants is to get her daughter home safely. Kim’s own childhood means she knows all too well what can happen to innocent kids even in their own homes.

Mummy believes that she’s rescuing Tonya. Desperate for a child of her own she sees Kim and makes a snap judgement about a woman who doesn’t deserve the blessing of three children. So she seizes her chance and persuades Tonya to come with her.

We follow the impact this has on Tonya and her partner Steve, as they struggle in their own different ways to cope and stay hopeful. We see Mummy as she tries to persuade Tonya to see this as her new home, fighting against her own damaged childhood – she also knows children may not be safe in their own home – and struggling with the difference between her fantasies if motherhood and the reality. We also see how the outside world views Kim, the judgements on a mother who could be so bad as to lose her daughter. We also see it from Tonya’s perspective, trapped with The Woman and wanting to get home.

The final outcome isn’t clear until the end. Will Tonya return home? Will Kim and her family hold together? What is in Mummy’s basement?

A fantastic read.

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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